FORT JACKSON, South Carolina -- The U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, along with the Naval Chaplain School and Center conducted a "joint" National Day of Prayer observance, in their shared campus courtyard, May 4.

The National Day of Prayer was established in 1952, with a clear focus to call all Americans to pray for the nation. The special time of prayer is an annual observance, which takes place on the first Thursday in May. The National Day of Prayer is not designed for political endorsement or statements or the endorsement of any religious service, program or event.

Opening the program, USACHCS Commandant Chap. (Col.) Jeffrey D. Hawkins, thanked NCSC Commanding Officer, Capt. Steven R. Moses, and those in attendance by saying, "I believe there is no better place than at our centers and schools, no better people than God's People that are gathered, and no better time than now, on the National Day of Prayer, to pray together." He also offered the opening invocation prayer.

Prayers were offered for the "Nation and Military Leaders," "Fort Jackson and Military Families," "USACHCS and Staff," and the "NSCS and Staff." Music was provided by Lt. Cmdr. Leroy Young and Kevin Thigpen.

The theme this year was "For Your Great Name's Sake! Hear Us... Forgive Us...Heal Us!" Taken from Daniel 9:19, which says, "O Lord, Listen! O Lord, Forgive! O Lord, Hear and Act! For Your Sake, O My God...

Chaplain (Col.) Jeffrey D. Watters, director of Future Operations, Office Chief of Chaplains, spoke about the highlighted passage and the power of intercessory prayer, which is praying on behalf of other people.

Watters also spoke of his father-in-law, who grew up on a farm in Boone, N.C., and attended basic training here in the 1960's. He retold a story that, as a child, his father-in-law woke up in the middle of the night and heard his mother praying, for another son, who was currently fighting in the Korean War. She was sure that the son was in trouble. By all rights, like so many others, the son probably shouldn't have made it back home.

"He should have died," Watters said. "He received multiple purple hearts, was captured and was supposed to be executed. The heartbeat of a mother, praying for her son in the wee hours of the morning. My father-in-law tells me that, with tears in his eyes. But, because of the prayers of a mother, the son came back and was reunited with his family."

In 1775, the Continental Congress allocated a time for prayer in forming a new nation. Over the years, there have been calls for a day of prayer, including from President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. On April 17, 1952, President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law. President Reagan amended the law in 1988, designating the first Thursday of May each year as the National Day of Prayer.

The first amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides for the free exercise of religion. The U.S. Army places a high value on the rights of Soldiers to observe the tenets of their respective religion. The purpose of the National Day of Prayer is to pray for the Nation.

The U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, established almost 100 years ago, serves as the U.S. Army Chief of Chaplain's institutional training base for Army Chaplains and Chaplain Assistants. USACHCS' mission is to educate, train, and resource exceptional religious support professionals of unmatched character, competence, and connection who excel in building readiness by taking care of Soldiers and their Families.