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Rachel Moss

Rachel Moss was born in St. Phillips, Newfoundland. In 2016 she participated in the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Beaumont-Hamel as a youth member of the Government of Canada delegation. The trip allowed her to feel a deeper connection to those who fought, and changed the way she understood history. It gave her a sense of duty to continue commemorating, and to share the knowledge she acquired.

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Rachel Moss

In 2016, Moss took part in the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Fair with a project entitled: The Service and Sacrifice of Tommy Ricketts, VC. "Tommy Ricketts was like a real life super hero," she explains. "But at 17, he shouldn't have had to have been." This multiplatform and multimedia experience led her to be a part of the Government of Canada's delegation to commemorate the 100th anniversaries of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel.

The delegation included Veterans, youth from Newfoundland and Labrador, representatives of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and the Royal 22e Régiment, the Department of National Defence and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and parliamentarians. They attended a variety of commemorative ceremonies and activities in both France and Belgium.

"You can read from history textbooks or look at pictures all day but it doesn't really resonate with you until you've been there."

This experience was incredibly humbling and eye-opening for Moss. Before that, learning about Newfoundland's involvement during the First World War felt impersonal. This all changed as soon as she set foot in France. She felt a real human connection when she saw the landscape ridden with craters. She could not believe her eyes upon noticing some areas were still roped off, more than 100 years later, because of the potential presence of explosives in the ground. She explained, "…you can read from history textbooks or look at pictures all day but it doesn't really resonate with you until you've been there. 100 years doesn't seem like such a long time ago anymore."

Forget-Me-Not given to Moss during her time with the delegation.

The most impactful part of her trip was a chance encounter. While waiting to get back on the bus one day, she was approached by an old man. "He was from Germany and was explaining why it was important that Germans came to France and Belgium to really understand their role in history and to remember everyone who died." He gave her his blue forget-me-not and she gave him her poppy in return. She still has the forget-me-not to this day.

She was only 12 years old when she joined the delegation on this life changing trip. Five years later, she appreciates the experience more than ever. Now 17, she truly understands how young these Canadians and Newfoundlanders were when they enlisted. "A lot of them were my age or younger and I don't consider myself an adult," she says. Reflecting on this brings up strong emotions: "I have such big ambitions and dreams that I'm definitely going to get to live out, and so many of these young folks just had to give that up. You know, it seems so incredibly unfair and upsetting… it's just important to remember that they did this and know that we get to live in the benefit of their sacrifices."

This trip made her feel like it was her duty to carry the torch of remembrance, and this is exactly what she has been doing. Since her original commemorative trip to France in 2016, she has made it her mission to ensure the service and sacrifices of the Newfoundlanders who fought in the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel are never forgotten.

Emily Park, Rachel Moss, Sarah Mack, and Lukus Oram-Feltham, were the four Canadian youth delegates attending commemorative events surrounding the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel in 2016.

"Commemorate what happened at every available opportunity no matter who you're with or where you are."

As we mark the 105th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel, Moss is reflecting on those who died during the combat. "That is just a number until you look at 700 headstones." Moss explains that she cannot fathom the experiences of those who fought at Beaumont-Hamel. She stresses the importance of keeping their memory alive, not only out of respect for the past but in order for people today to recognize the importance of maintaining peace. "Commemorate what happened at every available opportunity no matter who you're with or where you are."

In honour of the 105th anniversary of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel, Rachel Moss is featured as a Face of Freedom. Discover more stories.

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