Today is April 3rd.  As I sit here, II am reminded of my first experience with Freemasonry.  On this date in 1974, a tornado devastated the city of Xenia, Ohio,  My father and I were at his office when it hit and 70% of the town was destroyed. He was a member of Xenia Lodge and, within a few days of the disaster, he received a relief check from the Grand Lodge in the amount of $500. 

A few months later, every mason affected received $5000. The Masonic Temple was destroyed in the tornado and during the next few years, it was rebuilt by the members themselves.  I remember as a 10 year old boy, standing on a ladder, helping a 75 year old member run electrical wires. It gives me an incredible sense of pride every time I walk inside the Xenia Masonic Temple.

I saw Freemasonry at its finest as a 10 year old boy.  I knew then that I wanted to be a Freemason more than anything.  In these challenging times, I hope we can be an inspiration for the sons and grandsons of our members as well.

Mark E. Howard is the Thrice Potent Master of Gabriel Lodge of Perfection.

A tornado funnel moves through the southeast Pine Crest Garden section of Xenia, Ohio, April 5, 1974. The tornado caused millions of dollars in damage and killed at least 29 persons and injuring scores of others. The photo was taken by Fred Stewart, an employee of a Zenia hospital. (AP Photo/Fred Stewart)