Mark Twain. John Wayne. George Washington. Neil Armstrong. These men are all in some way iconic figures in history, but what do they all have in common? Each of these men were a part of a fraternity, a brotherhood. These icons were all members of the freemasons. This brotherhood of men have existed for the purpose of charity, building good men, and building communities. The local lodge in Mena, the Dallas Masonic Lodge #128, seeks to serve the community through charitable contribution and the development of men.
The origin of the Masons is unknown, but it is certain that the fraternity has been around for centuries. In 1717, Masonry created a formal organization in England when the first Grand Lodge was formed, and then the brotherhood came to America. The local Masons Lodge was chartered in 1858 in Old Dallas. Long time member Rusty Gonzalez explains the impact of the lodge at the time, “The lodge was a place for the community to come and the men were very community focused. The original school at Dallas was funded by the Masons, along with the salaries of the teachers at the time.” At the time when the Lodge chartered, membership dues were $10, a big investment at that time.
The Masons have three precepts that the men live and operate by: Friendship, morality, and brotherly love. The Masons are a non-profit charitable brotherhood of men seeking to make a difference in the community in more ways than one. Don Davis, current Grand Master of the Lodge, explains one of the ways they make a difference, “Our goal is to make good men better. You can’t make a bad man a good man, but you can make a good man a better man.” In order to become a member of the Masons, one must ‘ask one to become one.’ Men interested in the Masons must petition and then they are accepted after a lengthy process. “We take the process seriously about who becomes a member because we only want the right men representing our brotherhood and our community. We have had 14 U.S Presidents that were Masons and many of the signers of the Constitution. This brotherhood has also been filled by good men and we want that to continue,” explains Terry Fruquay.
Dallas Masonic Lodge #128 has played a significant part in community growth in the history of Mena. “Many of the founders of Mena who helped build the community were Masons,” says Rusty. The Masons have helped invest into the community with charitable giving, but also literally, as the cornerstone of the Polk County Court House has their seal. There are records that can be found in the Lodge’s archives that point to decades of faithful service in different capacities in the community. “There are several things that we do that people don’t know about and we are okay with that. We just want to help out where we can and we don’t mind if nobody knows,” says Don. One area that everyone may be familiar with the Mason’s charitable contributions are the annual scholarships given away by the group. Recently, the local Masons hosted their annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser, which helps fund their charitable giving. “Seeing that one of the biggest things we want to do is educate and help men become better men, we want to give resources to those who are working diligent to better themselves through education,” explains Don.
History would show that many great men have come from Masonry, including the founders of our great country. “We believe that the precepts we seek to live by, if lived by everyone, our country would be better off. When we look to the founding of the country, that is why it was so strong, the founders lived by these precepts.” A commitment to friendship and brotherly love in a world that is often hostile would not only build strong communities, but repair broken communities as well. The Mena Dallas Masonic Lodge #128 is located at 701 Port Arthur in Mena.