Congress established the day in 1952, but the president by law must proclaim a day in May every year.
This year, President Obama called on Americans to “pray, or otherwise give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings.”
“In prayer, we have expressed gratitude and humility, sought guidance and forgiveness, and received inspiration and assistance, both in good times and in bad,” the proclamation said.
This is different than the National Prayer Breakfast, and observances manifest mainly in small gatherings around the country. In Washington, U.S. Rep. Pete Stark, Congress’ first “out atheist,” had his own response: declaring today a National Day of Reason.