-- July 26, 1943
This day will ever stand out in my mind as the day of greatest significance to me, altho as I write it seems like a dream. ... I called at Pres. [David O.] McKay's office to find if there was any change in the luncheon [?] dinner appointment at his home. He had understood, thru some mistake, that I was to be there to lunch. He said he'd been calling hotels, R.R. [railroad] stations, etc to locate me and that he had promised Pres. [Heber J.] Grant he'd drive me up to his summer home to see the President.
Pres. McKay stepped out of the office to make a phone call or two and on returning said Pres. Grant wants to see you and will have his car here for you at 5:15 p.m. At the appointed time (25 minutes later) I returned with Reed [Benson, Ezra's son] to Bro McKay's office where his driver drove us to the Beneficial Life to pick up the mgr., Bro. [George J.] Cannon, and then at his home we called for Sr. [Lucy] Cannon a daughter of Pres Grant.
Then to my surprise they drove Reed and I to Pres. Grant's summer home ... he took my right hand in both of his and as I looked into his kindly, tear filled eyes, he said, "With all my heart I congratulate you and pray God to bless you. You have been chosen as the newest Apostle of the Church."
The announcement seemed unbelievable and overwhelming. I was stunned and for several minutes could say only, "Oh President Grant that can't be" which I must have repeated several times before I was able to collect my thots enough to realize what had happened and that it was real and not a dream. He held my hand for a long time as we both shed tears of gratitude. For over 1/2 hour we were alone together, much of the time with our hands clasped warmly together. Tho feeble his mind was clear and alert and I was deeply inpressed with his sweet, kindly, humble spirit as he seemed to look into my soul.
... Among other things he stated, "The Lord has a way of magnifying men who are called to positions of leadership." When in my weakness I was able to state that I love the Church, he said, "We know that the Lord wants men who will give everything for His work."
He told of the action taken in a special meeting of the First Presidency and the Twelve 2 weeks before and that the decision regarding me had been enthusiastically una[nim]mous and would be popular with the Church membership.
... With all my heart I pray that I will ever remain true and faithful and at some future day come to be worthy of this sacred trust. With tear filled eyes the President recalled the devotion of my great-grandfather who was ordained an apostle at Winter Quarters [Iowa] by Brigham Young and came with him to the valleys in 1847. With tear filled eyes he reminded me that Apostle Ezra T. Benson and my other faithful projenetors [progenitors] would rejoice at his appointment of one of their de[s]cendants to the Apostleship.
Continuing he said, "We want you to go right on with your work in Washington [D.C.]. It may be a year and it may be several years. We urged Reed Smoot to remain in the [United States] Senate because we believed he could best serve the Church in the Senate."
... he then recounted some of his early experiences as a member of the quorum of Twelve.
... He then after I had started to go several times said I should be at the October [general] conference at which time I would be ordained. He then bid me a warm goodbye as both his hands clasped mine and we looked into each others tear dimmed eyes....
I hardly spoke a word as we drove down the canyon. I was still dazed from the shock. After a warm handclasp and pledge of support from Bro. Cannon he left us to return to the canyon.
Pres. McKay met me at the door with outstretched arms and our persons were pressed together as we pressed our arms around each other. His sweet congratulations and blessing will ever be remembered.
... Retired at 11 p.m. but slept very little but prayed, wept and did much sincere thinking regarding this great thing which has come to me a humble, weak farmer boy. With heart full of gratitude I pledged my all to the establishment of the Kingdom of God on the earth and plead with the Lord to give me strength to ever be worthy of this high and holy calling in the Church and Priesthood of God. (1)
[Benson had been] invited to join a large cooperative association at nearly double his $25,000- a-year salary, Benson again sought the advice of Church officials. Informed instead that he was being called to join the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (at an annual salary of $6,000), Benson quickly resigned his job and soon relocated his young family to Utah. (2)
1 - Ezra Taft Benson diary as quoted in Gary James Bergera, '"This Great Thing Which Has Come to Me a Humble, Weak Farmer Boy": Ezra Taft Benson's 1943 Call to the Apostleship', Mormon Historical Studies (Fall 2008, v.9)
2 - Gary James Bergera, '"Rising above Principle": Ezra Taft Benson as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, 1953-61, Part 1', Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Fall 2008, v 41)
LDS History Chronology: Ezra Taft Benson
Mormon History Timeline: the life of Ezra Taft Benson