Eighty years ago people from more than 50 different nations went to Spain to join the Communist party-backed International Brigade in an attempt to thwart the nationalist uprising.
Some 35,000 people, including more than 2,000 Britons, joined the fight against the generals and their supporters.
About 15,000 of them died as the generals and their backers ultimately prevailed over the republic and Franco began his dictatorship.
While not completely analogous to the current situation in Syria, it demonstrates that people have long been willing to get involved with conflict on a personal level, even though on the surface it would appear to have nothing to do with them. They have felt so strongly compelled by politics or morals, or some other drive, that their conscience demanded they put themselves on the frontline.
Ollie Hall was a young man from Gosport. He did not need to be in Syria, and from the new account that has emerged of how he tragically died, he did not need to put himself in harm’s way.
But the fact that he chose to do so speaks volumes for his character – he died in a bomb blast while checking to see if a home was safe to return to for a refugee and his daughter.
As his mother Jane Lyndon says when she calls her son a hero: ‘He risked his life and his freedom, put himself in harm’s way to help strangers.’
While the origins of the quote ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,’ may be clouded, whoever said it and whenever it was minted, the sentiment is as apt today as it was when it was first uttered.
The so-called Islamic State has brought its fight to our shores, Ollie took the fight back to them.
Ollie did not need to go to Syria, but he did because of his conviction.
You do not need to agree with Ollie in going to Syria to support the Kurdish force against IS, and there is no doubt his death is an unspeakable tragedy.
We are not suggesting that more people head to Syria and join the fight.
But he was certainly a hero.