National Day of Prayer celebrated here

The future of The National Day of Prayer federal statute, which was ruled unconstitutional in April 2010 by a federal judge, may be in question, but it did not interfere with Hobe Sound’s observance on May 5.

American flags rimmed the parking lot of the Harry & the Natives restaurant as people gathered there, drawing in motorists on US 1 who wanted to share in the celebration of patriotism that engulfed the country following the death of the world’s most feared terrorist just days previously.

“I’ve been wanting to yell, sing, dance, or do something ever since our soldiers took Osama bin Laden off the face of the earth,” said Jacklyn Harris of Jupiter, a motorist who had first honked as she drove by, then made a U-turn and came back. “When I saw the flags, I said ‘Yes!’ But, then, I had to stop…I wanted to be a part of whatever was going on here.”

Scores of people of all ages sat or stood, greeting friends and neighbors, making small talk, waiting for the observance of the National Day of Prayer to begin, as recordings of patriotic music filled the background spaces.

Members of Boy Scout Troop 888 presented colors as part of the opening ceremony, which was kicked off with a greeting by Pastor Matt Pilot, Christ Fellowship Church of Stuart, followed with an opening prayer by Don Brown of the First United Methodist Church of Hobe Sound.

When a young singer from the Christ Fellowship Church, Tara Baldwin, launched into the “Star-Spangled Banner,” the audience spontaneously began to join her, first a few, then dozens of voices, many singers with tears in their eyes.

Prayers were offered by members of eight different Christian churches for the media, the church, business, the military, education, the family and the government. Some remembered also the victims of the tornadoes that had recently swept our country. Songs were offered by the Celebration! singers, and Tara and Adam Baldwin led the crowd in singing “Amazing Grace.”

The Hobe Sound celebration joined hundreds of local observances throughout the United States on that first Thursday of May, which is declared each year by presidential proclamation to be the National Day of Prayer. President Harry S. Truman established the first official observance, endorsed by Congress in 1952, although historians point to many similar, unofficial proclamations, including an impassioned plea by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War for citizens to unite in prayer.

President Ronald Reagan in 1988 set a permanent date of the first Thursday in May, which has been followed by each President since. After the 2010 ruling, however, some questioned whether or not President Obama would declare a day of prayer for the nation, the date of which was due to arrive within weeks.
He did, signing a proclamation that led with “Throughout our Nation’s history, Americans have come together in moments of great challenge and uncertainty to humble themselves in prayer.” The names Barack Obama and Robert Gibbs, the President’s press secretary, were added to those named in the suit filed by the group challenging the proclamation’s constitutionality.

In spite of the challenge, President Obama again signed another proclamation this year, which concluded: “I call upon Americans to pray in thanksgiving for our freedoms and blessings and to ask for God’s continued guidance, grace, and protection for this land that we love.”

Judging from the turnout May 5 in a restaurant parking lot, Hobe Sound will continue to celebrate a National Day of Prayer, presidential proclamation or not.