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Ilove a parade! That old song came to mind as we stepped off for the 120th annual Firemen's Memorial Parade last week. It goes, 'I love a parade, the tramping of the feet, I love every beat I hear of the drum. I love a parade, when I hear the band, I just want to stand and cheer as they come. The rat-a-tat-tat, the blare of a horn. That rat-a-tat-tat, a bright uniform ... I love a parade!'

As the bells in Christ Church struck 9 a.m., we stepped off behind the flashing lights of the lead vehicle, the Westerly Marching Band and the color guard. The flags were flying high and so was I. As we made our way through town I thought about the sacrifice that these firefighters make on a day-to-day basis. I was truly honored to be standing among them.

I was there with Chief John Mackey, retired officers and the men and women of the Westerly Fire Department. This was my eighth year participating in the Firemen's Parade. I can honestly say that it never gets old. I had an ear-to-ear grin on my face as we marched through town. In that moment I felt like the luckiest man on earth. I was in a parade with some of my heroes.

A parade gives us an opportunity to celebrate the best things in life. Whether it was this one to recognize our firefighters, the parade in my home town of Colchester that marks Memorial Day, the Victory Parade in Boston that followed the World Series win, the Dunn's Corners Teddy Bear Parade or the Norwich Winter Parade, they lift up the good gifts we enjoy.

We often live in a blur of activity. We end up taking the people we see every day for granted. A parade prompts us to stop and think about these things. Maybe we need to have a separate parade for teachers, nurses, cashiers and truck drivers?

Guess what? We already do. There is a parade of these people coming in and out of our lives every day and we can honor them when they come our way.

The book of Proverbs tells us to 'cast your bread upon the waters for you will find it after many days.' In other words, 'be a blessing to those you meet. In doing so, you will be blessed.' I like the way St. Francis of Assisi put it: 'Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing you have received — only what you have given.'

So give them their due.

Summer is here. School will soon be out.

For most of us, life slows down a bit. I'd like to encourage you this summer to notice the people God sends your way.

Take the time to thank them for the little things they do. Notice the sacrifices they make and tell them they are appreciated.

Give them a smile, a salute or a wave. I guarantee you will be blessed in doing so.

The Rev. Cal Lord is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Westerly.

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