I always have many thoughts about Memorial Day, veterans and being thankful for their service. My dad served, and I truly love being an American and having the freedoms that I have, so for me this is a day that really means something.  Memorial Day is always the last Monday of May. On a superficial note, it tends to mark the beginning of summer, and also gives us a great three day holiday weekend. But, this holiday was created to honor the men, women and animals who have given their lives in service of our country. First known as “Decoration Day,” it began three years after the end of the Civil War, when a former Union general called for a way to remember fallen service members. For decades, Americans marked the holiday on May 30. In 1971. The federal government officially designated the last Monday in May as Memorial Day, and ever since, today is the day we remember.

I love planning weddings and producing events. I live for it actually, as I am sure you can tell from this website and blog!  I also have a deep rooted love for a few other things – one a little more than most, which are my horses and competing with them all over the country. One of the places that I love the most in my travels with them is when we qualify for the International Horse Show in Washington, D.C. My husband Collin, my parents and even my cousin Rich were along for the adventure last year with my trainer Caitlyn, and two of my horses, Lucca + Cassius. As you may know, Collin is an insanely talented photographer, (click here for more of his work!) and he captured some really beautiful moments during our time competing at WIHS, and being tourists in our nation’s capital. I think today is the perfect day to share some of those images with you, in honor of the many men, women and animals that have died while serving our country.

Amazing views from the roof of the Newseum

one of my favorite places in D.C. – perfectly captured by Collin

I have had the distinct pleasure the last few years to compete with my horses at the Washington International Horse Show. This also gives me a chance to see our nation’s capital each year. I love taking in all of the monuments and museums!

Caitlyn and I taking a moment to allow it to all soak in. Qualifying for this horse show is a big deal, and is always a huge goal of mine every year. And one that I work to achieve while still working full time with my clients, and as a managing partner of my family’s business. This was that moment when we both knew that all of the work in 2017 had led to, and it was really emotional. My husband captured this photo for me, and I love it.

4th place finish was a team best for us at this horse show – this is a VERY proud moment for Lucca and me!

This is my horse Lucca (who I refer to as Mo), me and my trainer, Caitlyn Shiels during our time last year at the WIHS

Caitlyn + Cassius competing in the high performance hunter division at WIHS

This annual international competition takes place in Washington, D.C. and it is so exciting. Established in 1958, the Washington International Horse Show is one of the most prestigious and entertaining equestrian events in North America. More than 26,000 spectators attend the six-day show, which includes Olympic-level competition along with community and charity events. More than 500 top horses and riders come to D.C. from all over the globe to jump for more than a half a million dollars in prize money. Highlights include the $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Washington for the President’s Cup, presented by Events DC (Saturday night), the Puissance high jump presented by The Boeing Company on Military Night (Friday) and Kids’ Day (Saturday), a free, fun and educational community event.

The management behind the horse show raise money every year for many worthwhile organizations, including the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, known as TAPS.The $50,000 International Jumper Speed Final, presented by the Man O’ War Project in partnership with Columbia University Medical Center, hosts the “Jump for TAPS” Challenge to raise funds for The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. Each time the vertical flag jump is cleared, a monetary donation is made to TAPS courtesy of The Schaufeld Family. WIHS has raised more than $96,000 for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors since 2010

Meeting Klinger the Caisson Platoon horse was an honor. These horses pull the wagons that take our country’s fallen heroes to their final resting place inside Arlington cemetery.

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) offers compassionate care to all those grieving the loss of a military loved one. Since 1994, TAPS has provided comfort and hope through a national peer support network and connection to grief resources, all at no cost to surviving families and loved ones.

TAPS has assisted more than 75,000 surviving families, casualty officers and caregivers. I loved the chance to learn more about TAPS while in D.C. Having the time to explore the amazing monuments and museums of the city is also something I love doing while there. For the first time,  I was able to do this with my trainer and friend, Caitlyn Shiels, whose grandfather is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Caitlyn Shiels is my trainer, dear friend, sister, maid of honor and so much more. It was truly an honor to go into Arlington National cemetery with her and her family,  on their annual family pass and take in the emotion of that place. It was something unlike anything else that I have ever experienced, or seen. The cemetery is just lined with head stone after headstone, from war after war of men and women that have given their lives.

Caitlyn takes a moment to leave something for her grandfather at his grave. I did not have the pleasure of meeting him before he passed away, but I have loved learning his remarkable story through his daughter and granddaughter.

One of the many views in Arlington.

 

What you feel at these monuments stays with you. As it should. Occasionally when standing there, you see a veteran, and you realize you are watching someone as he or she remembers their fallen friends.

Paying respect at the tomb of the unknown soldier with my parents. This is something my father does every time he is in D.C., out of respect for the friends and fellow soldiers that he lost during his time serving in the Army.

I have been lucky enough to compete at this show two years in a row. I love everything about it, especially that it gives me time in our nation’s capital. Being there is a chance to reflect on our history as a country. To remember to have profound gratitude for the brave souls that run into the chaos and violence of battle all to defend the freedoms that we hold so dear. In honor of Memorial Day,  I am sharing some of my most favorite images captured by my husband, Collin, during our time there.

If you would like to get involved with TAPS. Learn more here: https://www.taps.org/

 Happy Memorial Day, friends – xo

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