Take a moment with a vet, while you still can

As each Remembrance Day goes by fewer of our veterans from the Second World War remain.

As each Remembrance Day goes by fewer of our veterans from the Second World War remain.

As each year slips into the next the stories that they can tell us of that important era in our world history are lost to time, one after another.

Already, no veterans from the First World War remain. It is a stark reminder for many of us who remember very well when there was a large contingent from the Great War who used to march proudly to the cenotaph every Nov. 11.

So this Remembrance Day, think about taking a few minutes to ask a veteran to tell you what they remember from that time. The window to be able to do so is closing.

We have spoken to many veterans over the years and brought their stories to these pages, and we can tell you without reservation that to hear them speak of their experiences, feelings and motivations for taking up the call to fight for their country is a moving, unforgettable experience that you should have for yourself.

It is often said, with great truth, that those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it.

The first step to understanding is to know our own history. And to know it from such a personal perspective, face to face, helps us to understand it more than any book or archive ever could.

We must remember. We must remember the bravery and the courage, but also the ugly realties of war — the death, the pain and the loss that those who experienced it will never forget.

It is hard for many of us to imagine conflict on this kind of scale. It is certainly something we hope our children and grandchildren will never know of first-hand.

Yet we look at the refugees from Syria and other countries in the Middle East pouring over the borders into Europe at great peril, desperate to escape the sudden upheaval of their ordinary lives. They remember when, just short months ago, they went to school, went to work, went to the market or the grocery store just like we do now.

Peace and ordinary life is not something that we can take for granted. When we know what the alternative is, we are far less likely to do so.