“Elder Benson Receives Patriotic Honor,” Ensign, Oct. 1972, 80
Elder Ezra Taft Benson of the Council of the Twelve was recently honored by a group of prominent American citizens who promote and encourage patriotism. The group, New England Rally for God, Family, and Country, gathered in Boston for their tenth annual forum and saluted Elder Benson at a dinner in his honor as an “inspired and inspiring religious leader; wise and purposeful cabinet member; dedicated and courageous American.” Elder Benson was formerly a member of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s cabinet, serving as Secretary of Agriculture (1953–1961).
In his remarks at the occasion, Elder Benson noted that “this past year … my grandson, who is attending this rally with several others of our posterity, was introduced to the historical character Israel Putnam. Israel Putnam was one of the revolutionary war farmers who left his plow in the field and who gave up his comfort in order to protect his family, defend his inalienable God-given rights, and help establish this great, free country. It is heartening to know that today there are still those who answer to the rallying cry of God, family, and country.
“Today, it was my privilege to walk across a part of that sacred soil where some of the best blood of Israel Putnam’s generation was shed for freedom and for the redemption of this land. Those noble souls did not initiate freedom, for freedom is a God-given eternal principle. But they defended and preserved it, and one of the privileges of mortal life is the opportunity to rise in freedom’s defense during the time when Lucifer is permitted to tempt and test men with his satanic schemes of slavery. This is part of our mission today. The same sun that shone on Israel Putnam during his mortal probation shines on us. And the same issues of light and darkness, force and freedom, right and wrong, that provided men a chance to prove themselves in his day continue to sift the souls of men today.”
Elder Benson also encouraged the founding of strong families. “Multiply your influence by raising up God-fearing patriots at your own fireside,” he said. “We need more than one generation of patriots in a family line. We need more men like John Adams, who took time amid all the demands of the revolution and the building of this republic to teach and train a future president, his own son, John Quincy Adams.
“Not only should you have a strong spiritual home, but you should have a strong temporal home. Avoid financial bondage by getting out of debt as soon as you can. Pay as you go, and live within your income.”