A family home evening shown to nation on TV

Even when he had a busy schedule as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Ezra Taft Benson and his wife, Flora, learned to make a consistent practice of holding a regular home evening with their family. In his journal, President Benson wrote of the benefit of this effort and the national attention focused on their family home evening on Sept. 24, 1954:

"While [I was] serving in the Cabinet, Ed Murrow of CBS approached me and asked questions about our family home evenings. He had learned something about them and wanted to know if we would go on the air in his national broadcast with our home evening. I presented the idea in our regular home evening. At first Flora was somewhat opposed to it because she didn't want our daughters publicized, nor did I. Our two missionary sons, however, convinced us that this could be a missionary endeavor. We could answer every question by some reference to the Church and the programs of the Church. So it was agreed."There was no rehearsing. It was very informal. We did discuss it, but decided we would go forward much as we did in our regular home evenings. Ed Murrow was in New York and we were in our home in Washington. Cameras on wheels were in various parts of the home and the garage was filled with a battery of control switches with a 30-foot tower in a truck in front of the house.

"The Lord blessed our efforts. All of the children responded beautifully, including little Beth, who did a song and dance with an umbrella, using the mat from my office to dance on as she sang, `It's a Lovely Day Today.' We all sang around the piano. We were questioned and certainly the missionary spirit was present.

"Later, our good friends, the J. Willard Marriotts, invited us to their ranch at Mt. Royal, Virginia, where we made a presentation of our home evening for President and Mrs. Eisenhower's mother and other members of their family with the Marriotts in their ranch home.

"Later, Ed Murrow, in an article in Life Magazine, indicated he had been asked which of all his programs, through the years, was the most popular and brought the most fan mail. He responded, to my surprise, `The home evening program of Secretary Ezra Taft Benson and his family brought more fan mail than any program I ever conducted.'

"Later it was said that the missionary work had been greatly augmented as missionaries found it easier to get into homes following that program. Later a director of the Republican Party for the Southern States came to my office and said, `You're so popular in the Southern States you could be elected to any office. As a matter of fact, I'm going to suggest to the party that you be considered a candidate for the Presidency from the Republican Party.' I'm not sure this ever happened, but I assured him it would not work out, even if he did suggest it."

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