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Kildonan-East Collegiate
River East Transcona School Division
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ESP Student One of 26 Representing Canada at Vimy Ridge Memorial in France

April 07, 2017

 Jessie.jpg

Grade 12 KEC student Jessie Posthumus is about to embark on a trip that will undoubtedly be the highlight of his young life.

Posthumus will be one of 26 youth delegates representing Canada at Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France this month.  It's an honour that is not lost on the young man, who's planning a career as a pilot in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Posthumus has been to the Vimy Memorial before, travelling to France in Grade 10 for the anniversary of the liberation of Poland.  So he's prepared for the emotional impact.

"It's absolutely amazing ... it's breathtaking just to see the monument and then the thoughts that come with it, how thousands of Canadians lost their lives there", Posthumus said.

"It's kind of like the coming of age of our country, where we were seen as, instead of just a British Commonwealth, people started to notice Canada."

For Posthumus, talk of Vimy Ridge seems to take on a personal tone.  He knows the history better than many Canadians, and he can rattle off details of which countries tried and failed to take the Ridge before the Canadians showed up on that fateful morning.

His describes the horrible, rainy and cold conditions that the Canadians fought April 9, 1917, all the while fighting the battle of their lives, and he acknowledges those young men, that battle, hold a special place in his heart.  

"It really does.  I just know that say, I were born in the 1900s or late 1800s, and I was 16 to 25 at that time... I feel that I would have felt the same calling as they did and I would have been one of the soldiers going into that battle possibly.  I would have felt the need to defend my country, so I would have enlisted for sure," Posthumus said.

"To just imagine being 16 years old and standing in a tunnel, about to run out through trenches and mud and rain, because on that morning it was absolutely terrible weather.  It was raining and it was cold ... and just running through there, through a barrage of gun fire, and battling and overcoming all that adversity, I can't even imagine what it was like.  But just knowing that people my age ... were there that day, and they fought, we owe them our freedom."

Posthumus, a member of the 176 Boeing of Canada Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron, said he's honoured to be selected as one of the 26 youth from across the country to go to France.

He was planning to go regardless, an be one of the thousands in the crowd, but now will take part in ceremonies at the National War Memorial in Ottawa first before heading to France.  He may even have a speaking role during the ceremonies in France.

"I'm very, very honoured to be going," he said.

"It's an honour that Veterans Canada selected me."

Posthumus leaves for Ottawa on April 3 and heads to France on April 5.  He returns to Winnipeg on April 13.