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BELOVED IDAHO VALLEY: FINAL RESTING PLACE

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"President Benson, after his marvelous career and the influence which he has given across the world, has returned to his native Cache Valley for burial," said President Gordon B. Hinckley at the prophet's grave side in the Benson family plot in the Whitney cemetery.

Although this farming community in southeastern Idaho just over the Utah border has a population of only about 300, some 700 people crowded into the tiny cemetery June 4 for the brief ceremony to dedicate President Benson's grave. The grave is next to that of his wife, Flora, who died Aug. 14, 1992.Before President Benson's casket was removed from the hearse, the floral arrangement of white roses that had adorned it for the funeral service in the Tabernacle earlier in the day was replaced with an American flag, befitting the patriot that he was. General Authorities formed two ranks, between which passed President Benson's grandsons who served as pallbearers carrying the casket to the grave site.

Throughout the ceremony, fluffy bits of "cotton" from cottonwood trees wafted throughout the cemetery. President Hinckley said: "This cotton flying through the air this June day would be familiar to him. Here he grew and matured and it was from here he went to fulfill his many missions in various parts of the earth."

President Hinckley commented on some touching scenes en route to the cemetery from Salt Lake City: "It was an interesting thing in driving up here to see people along the highway, some of them with signs: `We love you, President Benson.' `We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet.' Things of that kind. A great outpouring of appreciation, love and respect."

President Hinckley read from a statement President Benson made in Logan, Utah, years ago concerning the valley in which he was born and reared. " "It's good to be back in Cache Valley. This valley is home to me. It will always be home. I was born here, I grew up here.'

"We might add that here he will be buried today. He spoke with love and affection concerning this part of the world, and what a beautiful thing that he can come here for his final resting place."

In dedicating the grave, Reed A. Benson, President Benson's eldest child, expressed gratitude that President Benson "discharged so well mankind's three great loyalties - loyalty to God as a great prophet, loyalty to family as a great patriarch, and loyalty to country as a great patriot. We are grateful for the sacred sod from which he sprung, even Cache Valley, for his spiritual heritage in those nurturing hands that blessed him."

As the ceremony concluded, people at the grave site spontaneously began to sing "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet." At first, just a few voices began singing softly; within a few measures, more voices joined and added strength to the hymn of gratitude, love and homage for a prophet who had come home.