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On May 1, 1958, President Eisenhower proclaims Law Day to honor the role of law in the creation of the United States of America. Three years later, Congress followed suit by passing a joint resolution establishing May 1 as Law Day.
The idea of a Law Day had first been proposed by the American Bar Association in 1957. The desire to suppress the celebration of May 1, or May Day, as International Workers’ Day aided in Law Day’s creation. May Day had communist overtones in the minds of many Americans, because of its celebration of working people as a governing class in the Soviet Union and elsewhere.
The American Bar Association defines Law Day as: “A national day set aside to celebrate the rule of law. Law Day underscores how law and the legal process have contributed to the freedoms that all Americans share.” The language of the statute ordaining May 1 calls it “a special day of celebration by the American people in appreciation of their liberties and? rededication to the ideals of equality and justice under law.”
On a day that, in many parts of the world, inspires devotion to the rights of the working classes to participate in government, Law Day asks Americans to focus upon every American’s rights as laid out in the fundamental documents of American democracy: the Declaration of Independence and the federal Constitution. The declaration insists that Americans “find these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” and guarantees the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Bill of Rights amended to the Constitution codifies the rights of free speech, free press and fair trial.
Law Day celebrates the legal construct for the determination of rights that the revolutionary leaders of the 1770s, hoping to prevent the sort of class warfare that went on to rack Europe from 1789 to 1917, were so eager to create.
National Day of Prayer
The National Day of Prayer is an annual day of observance held on the first Thursday of May, designated by the United States Congress, when people are asked "to turn to God in prayer and meditation". The president is required by law (36 U.S.C. § 119) to sign a proclamation each year, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day.  
|National Day of Prayer|
|Observed by||United States|
|Date||First Thursday in May|
|2020 date||May 7 ( 2020-05-07 )|
|2021 date||May 6 ( 2021-05-06 )|
|2022 date||May 5 ( 2022-05-05 )|
|2023 date||May 4 ( 2023-05-04 )|
|Related to||Day of Prayer|
The modern law formalizing its annual observance was enacted in 1952, although earlier days of fasting and prayer had been established by the Second Continental Congress from 1775 until 1783, and by President John Adams in 1798 and 1799.   Thomas Jefferson established a day of prayer and thanksgiving, but this occurred while he served as governor of Virginia. 
The constitutionality of the National Day of Prayer was unsuccessfully challenged in court by the Freedom From Religion Foundation after their attempt was unanimously dismissed by a panel of a federal appellate court in April 2011.  
Law Day originated in 1957 when American Bar Association President Charles Rhyne envisioned a special day for celebrating the US legal system. On February 3, 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower established Law Day by issuing a proclamation. Every president since then has issued an annual Law Day proclamation. In 1961, May 1 was designated by joint resolution of Congress as the official date for celebrating Law Day.
According to the Legal Information Institute, the President is requested to issue a proclamation, calling on all public officials to display the flag of the United States on all government buildings on Law Day and inviting the people of the United States to observe Law Day, with appropriate ceremonies and in other appropriate ways, through public entities and private organizations and in schools and other suitable places. Previous Law Day themes included “Justice for All”, “Foundations of Freedom”, and “Struggle for Justice”.
Presidential Proclamation -- Law Day, U.S.A., 2015
Throughout the world, the rule of law is central to the promise of a safe, free, and just society. Respect for and adherence to the rule of law is the premise upon which the United States was founded, and it has been a cornerstone of my Presidency. America's commitment to this fundamental principle sustains our democracy -- it guides our progress, helps to ensure all people receive fair treatment, and protects our Government of, by, and for the people.
This Law Day, we celebrate a milestone in the extraordinary history of the rule of law by marking the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. Centuries ago, when kings, emperors, and warlords reigned over much of the world, it was this extraordinary document -- agreed to by the King of England in 1215 -- that first spelled out the rights and liberties of man. The ideals of the Magna Carta inspired America's forefathers to define and protect many of the rights expressed in our founding documents, which we continue to cherish today.
The Magna Carta has also provided a framework for constitutional democracies throughout the world, and my Administration is committed to supporting good governance based upon the rule of law. Around the globe, we support strong civil institutions, independent judiciaries, and open government -- because the rule of force must give way to the rule of law. For more than two centuries, we have witnessed these values drive opportunity and prosperity here in the United States, and as President, I will continue to work to bolster our systems of justice and advance efforts that do the same overseas.
America is and always has been a nation of laws. Our institutions of justice are vital to securing the promise of our country, and they are bound up with the values and beliefs that have united peoples through the ages. The United States and our citizens are inextricably linked to all those around the world doing the hard work of strengthening the rule of law -- joined in common purpose by our mutual interest in building freer, fairer, more just societies.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, in accordance with Public Law 87-20, as amended, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2015, as Law Day, U.S.A. I call upon all Americans to acknowledge the importance of our Nation's legal and judicial systems with appropriate ceremonies and activities, and to display the flag of the United States in support of this national observance.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
Law Day is a national day to celebrate the rule of law and its contribution to the freedoms Americans enjoy. President Dwight Eisenhower established the first Law Day in 1958 to mark the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. In 1961, Congress issued a joint resolution designating May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day. Every president since then has issued a Law Day proclamation on May 1 to celebrate the nation’s commitment to the rule of law.
The whole idea of “Law Day” originated in Wewoka by the late Hicks Epton, a well-known local and state lawyer. Epton and the Seminole County Bar Association started it with a “Know Your Courts-Know Your Liberties” program at Wewoka on May 1, 1946, to pay tribute to the American system of justice and counterbalance communist celebrations held annually on that day.
In 1948, Epton and other members of the Seminole County Bar presented a special “Oklahoma Lawyers’ Forum” in Wewoka, which was so well received by an overflow crowd of 150 Rotary and Lions Club members, attorneys and other civic leaders, that similar programs were conducted before large crowds in Ada, Ardmore and Lawton.
Epton then promoted a celebration of Law Day at the University of Oklahoma in 1949, where it became an annual event and evolved into a state-wide celebration of the Oklahoma Bar Association, which gained national recognition in 1954 by the Freedom Foundation.
Since 1957, the American Bar Association has sponsored “Law Day” as a special day.
That same year, Congress and President Eisenhower, by presidential proclamation, set aside “Law Day” to celebrate our liberties each year.
The Seminole County Bar Association continues that tradition in Seminole County still today.
Statement by the President on the Observance of Law Day.
THURSDAY--MAY FIRST--has by proclamation been designated "Law Day." The reason is to remind us all that we as Americans live, every day of our lives, under a rule of law.
Freedom under law is like the air we breathe. People take it for granted and are unaware of it--until they are deprived of it. What does the rule of law mean to us in everyday life? Let me quote the eloquent words of Burke: "The poorest man may, in his cottage, bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail its roof may shake the wind may blow through it the storms may enter the rain may enter--but the King of England cannot enter all his forces dare not cross the threshold of that ruined tenement !"
But the rule of law does more than ensure freedom from high-handed action by rulers. It ensures justice between man and man however humble the one and however powerful the other. A man with five dollars in the bank can call to account the corporation with five billion dollars in assets--and the two will be heard as equals before the law. The law, however, has not stopped here. It has moved to meet the needs of the times. True, it is good that the King cannot enter unbidden into the ruined cottage. But it is not good that men should live in ruined cottages.'
The law in our times also does its part to build a society in which the homes of workers will be invaded neither by the sovereign's troops nor by the storms and winds of insecurity and poverty. It does this, not by paternalism, welfarism and hand-outs, but by creating a framework of fair play within which conscientious, hard-working men and women can freely obtain a just return for their efforts.
This return includes not only good wages and working conditions, but insurance as a fight against the insecurities of injury, unemployment and old age. In the words of a great American lawyer: "The law must be stable, but it must not stand still."
Another direction in which the rule of law is moving is that of displacing force in relations among sovereign countries. We have an International Court of Justice. We have seen the exercise of an international police function, both in the United Nations force in Korea, and in the United Nations force assigned to the Gaza Strip. We have agreements in Article II of the United Nations Charter to the most fundamental concepts of international conduct.
We have elaborate rules of international law--far more complete and detailed than most people realize. More than once, nations have solemnly outlawed war as an instrument of national policy, most recently in the Charter of the United Nations. We have, in short, at least the structure and machinery of an international rule of law which could displace the use of force. What we need now is the universal will to accept peaceful settlement of disputes in a framework of law.
As for our own country, we have shown by our actions that we will neither initiate the use of force or tolerate its use by others in violation of the solemn agreement of the United Nations Charter. Indeed, as we contemplate the destructive potentialities of any future large-scale resort to force, any thoughtful man or nation is driven to a sober conclusion.
In a very real sense, the world no longer has a choice between force and law. If civilization is to survive, it must choose the rule of law. On this Law Day, then, we honor not only the principle of the rule of law, but also those judges, legislators, lawyers and law-abiding citizens who actively work to preserve our liberties under law.
Let history record that on Law Day free man's faith in the rule of law and justice is greater than ever before. And let us trust that this faith will be vindicated for the benefit of all mankind.
Law Day 2000 Law Library of Congress Hosts Annual Event
"Now, therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Thursday, May 1, 1958, as Law Day -- USA. I urge the people of the United States to observe the designated day with appropriate ceremonies and activities and I especially urge the legal profession, the press and the radio, television and motion picture industries to promote and to participate in the observance of that day."
Mr. Rhyne with Margaret Bush Wilson (left) and Mabel McKinney-Browning of the American Bar Association.
Since that day, every U.S. President has annually issued a Law Day Proclamation, and the activities surrounding the event have not abated, as evidenced by the Planning Guide the American Bar Association (ABA) distributes every spring as well as by the special Law Day Chair the ABA appoints to coordinate and inspire Law Day events nationwide. The theme for the year 2000 celebration was "Speak Up for Democracy and Diversity."
History, of a kind, was made when the Law Library on May 1, 2000, honored and featured as speaker the originator of the idea of Law Day, Charles S. Rhyne. In introducing the speaker, Law Librarian Rubens Medina described Mr. Rhyne, 88, as "a distinguished lawyer in private practice, a prominent litigator and a prolific author who spent most of his career at the center of political power. He counseled several presidents and became a recognized expert in the field of aviation law. As a passionate proponent for human and civil rights, he fought discrimination throughout his career wherever he encountered it."
"As a litigator, Mr. Rhyne successfully argued many cases before the Supreme Court. His desire to increase the public's awareness of the rule of law and to halt the use of force found its ultimate expression in 1958, when President Eisenhower, through Mr. Rhyne's efforts, signed a Presidential Proclamation declaring May 1, 1958, as Law Day USA. These efforts received worldwide attention, when Time magazine devoted its May 8, 1958, cover to Charles Rhyne, then president of the American Bar Association."
The Law Librarian concluded by noting Mr. Rhyne's remarkable "ability to translate his vision into reality, which has not only earned him numerous honorary degrees and positions of leadership, but also two Nobel Prize nominations. However, his crowning moment came in 1963, when 2,500 legal representatives from all over the world came together in Athens to discuss how to extend the rule of law internationally in the first World Peace Through Law Conference. He served as president for the World Peace Through Law Center from its inception until the organization in 1991 changed name to the World Jurist Association."
Mr. Medina also thanked the Friends of the Law Library of Congress. With the support of the Friends, "the Law Library has been able to develop its own annual tradition to observe Law Day, as a way to celebrate the significance of law and the legal profession here and in other countries of the world, and as a way to reflect the wealth of the Law Library's vast global collection and the expertise and diversity of its research and reference staff." The Friends were represented by Abe Krash, president former Sen. Charles McC. Mathias, member of the board as well as by the executive director, Anne Mercer.
Former Sen. Charles McC. Mathias, Law Librarian Rubens Medina, Charles Rhyne, Margaret Hennebry, president of the World Jurist Association, and Abe Krash, president of the Friends of the Law Library of Congress, at the Library's recent Law Day celebration.
"It is an honor to speak to you in the Library building dedicated to Thomas Jefferson," Mr. Rhyne said. "I think Jefferson, with his belief in freedom of thought and individual liberty, as well as his recognition of the importance of a public declaration of these rights, would have approved of the Law Day we celebrate."
"I thought you might be interested in the way Law Day came about, and the way it has changed with the times. Mine will not be a scholarly presentation, but I hope it will offer some insight, and some amusement, about how public pronouncements often come into being."
"The justifications for a Law Day were twofold, one timeless and one very much a product of its times. The timeless notion was the use of law to achieve individual and social justice. The application of that notion to the Cold War, to contrast democracy with communism, was a product of its times, but one which, I think, is relevant to the new democracies which have replaced the communist regimes."
Mr. Rhyne then revealed how he persuaded President Eisenhower to sign the Law Day Proclamation.
"The immediate inspiration for a May 1 celebration of Law was directly related to the Cold War. For many years, the American news media gave front-page headlines and pictures to the Soviet Union's May Day Parade of new war weapons. I was distressed that so much attention was given to war-making rather than peacekeeping."
"My idea was to contrast the United States' reliance on the rule of law with the Soviet Union's rule by force. To that end, I drafted a U.S. Presidential Proclamation, which made its way from John Foster Dulles, secretary of state, to Sherman Adams, chief of staff to President Eisenhower, and stopped there."
"Time passed. May 1 was fast approaching and I had heard nothing, so I went to see Adams. He pulled the Proclamation out of his desk and gave it back to me, saying 'The President will not sign a Proclamation praising lawyers!'"
"I strode down to the Oval Office and handed it to President Eisenhower himself. As he stood there reading it, Adams burst in yelling 'Do not sign that paper praising lawyers!'"
Speaker Charles Rhyne explains the background of the text of the original Law Day radio broadcast he delivered on May 1, 1958, to Margaret Henneberry and Richard Danner of the Duke University School of Law.
"The President held his hand up for silence until he had read the entire document. Then he said 'Sherm, this Proclamation does not contain one word praising lawyers. It praises our constitutional system of government, our great heritage under the rule of law, and asks our people to stand up and praise what they have created. I like it and I am going to sign it.' And he did. . It has always seemed to me that Adams thought I was urging not recognition of Law Day but recognition of a Lawyers' Day, sort of like Mother's Day or Father's Day. I am glad that President Eisenhower set him straight."
Mr. Rhyne closed by expressing the hope "that the opportunity which Law Day provides to reflect on the use of law by both nations and individuals will prompt both you in this audience and the leaders of nations to explore ways in which not only the Internet, but also other new technologies, can make more law more readily available to those who need it."
The event was held in the Jefferson Building and attracted an audience of close to 100, including Margaret Bush Wilson, the American Bar Association chair of Law Day 2000, and her colleague Mabel C. McKinney-Browning, director of the ABA Division of Public Education. Also in attendance was Senior Associate Dean Richard A. Danner of the Duke University School of Law, to represent Mr. Rhyne's alma mater. Among other guests in the audience were Margaret Henneberry, president of the World Jurist Association Kamla K. Hedges, director of Library Relations for the Bureau of National Affairs Marilou M. Righini, consultant and editor for Transnational Publishers Inc. Hans Wabnitz, legal counsel at the World Bank Luz Sadak, Inter-American Development Bank and Susan Hoban and Joel Sachs from NASA.
Joining staffers from the Law Library and from other parts of the Library of Congress were also many law librarians, such as Linda Corbelli from the Supreme Court Library Randall J. Snyder from the Executive Office of the President Law Library and Mary Alice Baish, associate Washington affairs representative, Georgetown University Law Center, representing the American Association of Law Libraries.
Law Library Celebrates Law Day 2011
After the excitement over last week’s royal wedding (especially the dress) celebrating Law Day might strike one as slightly anticlimactic. But annual Law Day celebrations and events mark a vital part of American society, culture and history.
Law Day was first proclaimed in 1957 by President Eisenhower. In his proclamation President Eisenhower stated that our heritage of liberty, justice and equality was underpinned by the law. The proclamation pointed out that the guarantee of fundamental individual rights under law was the “heart and sinew of our Nation” and distinguished the United States from countries that tried to rule by “might alone.” President Eisenhower also saw that the “universal application of the rule of law in the settlement of international disputes would greatly enhance the cause of a just and enduring peace.”
Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy issued proclamations for Law Day in subsequent years and in 1961 Congress passed a joint resolution designating May 1 as Law Day. Since then every President has issued an annual Law Day proclamation extolling and celebrating our heritage, which is rooted in the rule of law, and calling on those in the legal profession to uphold this day through educational activities and events. The Law Library of Congress’ Law Day page details the legislative history of this day with links to the laws and presidential proclamations as well as books and articles on Law Day.
The American Bar Association sets a theme for Law Day each year. This year’s theme is “The Legacy of John Adams: from Boston to Guantanamo.” The theme refers to Adams’ role as counsel for the British soldiers who were tried for murder as a result of the Boston Massacre of 1770. Although already a well known leader of the American resistance to English rule, Adams defended the soldiers because he believed that the rule of law and the rights of the accused outweighed other considerations. Adams’ statements are recorded in the trial transcript wherein he refers to the importance of the rule of law throughout his defense and in his concluding statement pointed to the undeviating course which the law must follow and “not bend to the uncertain wishes, imaginations and wanton tempers of men.” As well as Adams, we are called upon to celebrate those who represented the Haymarket 8 who were accused of killing a police officer Samuel Leibowitz who represented the Scottsboro Boys Michael Tiger who represented Terry Nichols and those who represent Guantanamo Bay detainees.
The Law Library has a page on John Adams and the Boston Massacre Trial of 1770 which provides a brief history of the incident and the trial as well as links to some of the rare materials in our collection associated with Adams.
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Presidential Proclamation -- Law Day, U.S.A., 2012
When President Dwight D. Eisenhower established Law Day in 1958, he proclaimed it "fitting that the people of this Nation should remember with pride and vigilantly guard the great heritage of liberty, justice, and equality under law which our forefathers bequeathed to us." Today, we celebrate that enduring legacy and renew our commitment to a democracy sustained by the rule of law.
This year's Law Day theme, "No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom," recalls the historic role our courts have played in protecting the fundamental rights and liberties of all Americans. Our courts are the guarantors of civil justice, social order, and public safety, and we must do everything we can to enable their critical work. The courthouse doors must be open and the necessary services must be in place to allow all litigants, judges, and juries to operate efficiently. Likewise, we must ensure that access to justice is not an abstract theory, but a concrete commitment that delivers the promise of counsel and assistance for all who seek it.
Today, let us reflect upon the role generations of legal and judicial professionals have played in building an America worthy of the ideals that inspired its founding. The timeless principles of equal protection and due process remain at the heart of our democracy, and on Law Day, we recommit to upholding them not just in our time, but for all time.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, in accordance with Public Law 87-20, as amended, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2012, as Law Day, U.S.A. I call upon all Americans to acknowledge the importance of our Nation's legal and judicial systems with appropriate ceremonies and activities, and to display the flag of the United States in support of this national observance.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.
Read President Eisenhower’s 1954 Veterans Day Proclamation
Today marks Veterans Day, a day when we remember those who have served our nation and defended freedom.
In celebration of this day, we would like to share President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Veterans Day proclamation issued in 1954.
VETERANS DAY, 1954
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
WHEREAS it has long been our custom to commemorate November 11, the anniversary of the ending of World War I, by paying tribute to the heroes of that tragic struggle and by rededicating ourselves to the cause of peace and
WHEREAS in the intervening years the United States has been involved in two other great military conflicts, which have added millions of veterans living and dead to the honor rolls of this Nation and
WHEREAS the Congress passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1928 (44 Stat. 1962), calling for the observance of November 11 with appropriate ceremonies, and later provided in an act approved May 13, 1938 (52 Stat. 351), that the eleventh of November should be a legal holiday and should be known as Armistice Day and
WHEREAS in order to expand the significance of that commemoration and in order that a grateful nation might pay appropriate homage to the veterans of all its wars who have contributed so much to the preservation of this Nation, the Congress, by an act approved June 1, 1954 (68 Stat. 168), changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954, as Veterans Day. On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting and enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain. I also direct the appropriate officials of the Government to arrange for the display of the flag of the United States on all public buildings on Veterans Day.
In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.
IN WITNESS THEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and cause the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.
DONE at the City of Washington this eighth day of October in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and fifty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy-ninth.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
By the President:
JOHN FOSTER DULLES,
Secretary of State.