JUNEAU (AP) -- More than 400 people gathered around the Capitol steps Thursday to take part in National Day of Prayer ceremonies.
The group included about 100 elementary school children from the Juneau Christian School who gave lusty renditions of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, God Bless America and other patriotic songs.
The National Day of Prayer is an annual event established by Congress that encourages Americans to pray for the nation, its people and its leaders. It's celebrated on the first Thursday of May.
Rep. Jeannette James, R-North Pole, was among legislators who attended. She said she was asked to speak because she had sponsored legislation requiring public schools to provide a regular time to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
James said patriotism is important because it demonstrates appreciation for the country. She said pride in the country must be balanced by the humbleness required to pray for the country.
Pastor Doug Stude of the Church of the Nazarene in Juneau urged the crowd to remember their leaders and their country in prayer. Stude said prayer can succeed where all other means fail.
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