[MDHCA Director John M. Fickewirth was chosen to deliver the official dedication statement for the new library during the 29th Mojave Road Rendezvous. Following is his address.]
We are assembled here today to dedicate the Casebier Library. It is fitting we do so—as we celebrate the achievements of a man and his life's work.
A library is a repository, a center of learning, and this library for Dennis is the culmination of his mission to gather, conserve, and interpret the history of the East Mojave.
Dennis' association with the East Mojave began when he arrived in 29 Palms to serve the Republic as a United States Marine. He fell in love with this wonderful land, a love that lasts to this day.
Many of us are fascinated by the desert. We come, enjoy its wonders, and leave. Dennis is different. He came—and he collected the artifacts of the desert. He gathered the historical documents, he traveled to the wastelands of Washington, D.C. to conduct research at the National Archives, he met with the old-timers—and sometimes their descendants—and let them tell their stories. And most important he recorded and transcribed their oral histories.
What can be more ephemeral, more transitory, more anecdotal than the human memory? And when a pioneer of the East Mojave is gone, he or she takes his precious knowledge with him.
There are letters, documents, journals, photos, artifacts, all the physical reminders of man's presence here. But, what was the experience? What was the feel and texture of life in this great land?
It is from Dennis' thousands of pages of oral history that we know this. There is no other resource of the East Mojave comparable to this.
Since Dennis published his first monograph 38 years ago, he has built an admirable "shelf" of authored books. Many of Dennis' books are the standard reference works on the subjects.
We are often criticized for subscribing to the "Great Man Theory" of history—the belief that from time to time among us one person's actions change events.
Today we are here to dedicate a library. It will hold over, 6,000 volumes. Over 6,000 historic maps. Over 100,000 photographs of the Mojave Desert. The Weight, Edwards, Moon, and many other collections. And none of this would be possible without one Great Man—Dennis Casebier.
Please join with me in the dedication of the Dennis G. Casebier Library.
A magnificent bronze plaque measuring 26 x 34" and tipping the scales at 70 pounds was procured and donated by John M. Fickewirth. It is to be mounted on the wall inside the first floor of the Dennis G. Casebier Library. It bears the following inscription:
Dedicated to the pioneers of the East Mojave Desert whose stories are enshrined in this building
And to the membership of the Mojave Desert Heritage and Cultural Association
OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS
Steve Mongrain, President
Dennis Casebier, Exec. Dir.
Phil Motz, Vice President
Randy Kimball, Treasurer
Hugh Brown, Secretary
Jo Ann Casebier, Director
Chris S. Ervin, Director
John Fickewirth, Director
Russ Kaldenberg, Director
John Terrill, Director
Dedicated October 11, 2008
STUDY THE PAST
Funding for the Library was made possible by a grant from the California Cultural and Historical Endowment
Plaque Donated by John M. Fickewirth