Washburn, WI (NNCNOW.com) --- Police and first responders were honored Wednesday in Washburn, Wisconsin.
Local residents gathered for a "Blue Mass," to recognize what these men and women do every day to protect their lives.
For those who may not know what a 'Blue Mass' is...
"It's a way for the church and the community to say, 'thank you,' to the people that serve the public. Especially the volunteers," said Dan Clark, director of the Washburn Area Ambulance Service.
Washburn held its sixth annual Blue Mass on Wednesday.
The annual tradition dates back to the 1930's and Blue Mass ceremonies have been growing in popularity ever since.
"When people face tragedy be it a medical emergency, be it the need for law enforcement in their home, be it a fire, they mean to say thank you. They want to say thank you, but their lives have just experienced a crisis," said Clark.
Clark says the emergency service workers become part of family legends.
"You get to meet people, a lot of people. Often in their worst times, but you know, you get to help them, reassure them, maybe make a difference in their life," said Karyl Clark, EMT and ambulance training officer.
While these men and women make heroic moves every day, they remain humble, saying it's their duty to protect.
"You just go and do your job you don't really think about... a lot of times after you do. But when the time comes you're there to do your job," said Chris Grubisick, Ashland County Deputy Sheriff.
"You get scared. Afterwards you go, 'Oh, wow, I did that.' But then you run into the person in the grocery store and they say, 'thanks for helping me,' or, 'thanks for saving my life.' And that's all worthwhile," said Karyl Clark.
The first Blue Mass was believed to be held in 1934 on the East Coast by a priest who wanted the community to show appreciation for their local law enforcement officers.