It is perhaps foreign for us now to think of a publicly proclaimed day of prayer. We are less and less accustomed to public celebrations; giving thanks would seem to be a private rather than a public affair. Washington’s proclamation is at once a statement of gratitude and a statement of intention—for tranquility, union, plenty, for civil government and the blessings of liberty, for learning and for many other blessings. These we enjoy these days in greater or lesser degree, depending on our circumstance. The proclamation is also a prayer of repentance—an acknowledgement of our shortcomings, as individuals and as a nation. We give thanks for what we have, and long for the cup of blessings to be fuller. But we also confess our sins of commission and omission. In so doing, we reflect on what we can do to increase that cup of blessings for ourselves, but especially for others. We renew our sense of responsibility and our sense of hope, in gratitude for what we have, and for the work that lies before us.