&  Remarks at CALEB Library Dedication


Following are  remarks written by the mother of Caleb J. Pulver to be read at  the dedication service for the original Caleb Library.   These remarks were presented by  Maralyn Dettmann, on behalf of  Virginia and Mark Pulver.




Caleb Library Dedication

Aug 2004, Rumphi, Malawi, Africa

Remarks by Virginia J. Pulver (Presented by Maralyn Dettmann)

It would be a pleasure for Caleb’s father and me to be there with all of you gathered at this site today – I can imagine the love in this group and even more important, the joy.    

When my husband and I visited Nyika Progressive Secondary School back in July 2001, we had no idea that it would be the beginning of a shared history.  We had no idea that a library would be built here to honor the memory of our son, Caleb Jeremiah Pulver.  

Henry Miller, an American author has much to say about how books influence our lives.  He says:

“Books are one of the few things men cherish deeply. And the better the man the more easily will he part with his most cherished possessions. A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition. Like money, books must be kept in constant circulation…books represent infinitely more than money. A book is not only a friend, it makes friends for you. When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on you are enriched threefold."

This passage is filled with the energy and spirit we hope your library embraces.   Keep the books circulating…you are richer for it!  I know that my life is richer for the experience of sharing books. 

Filling the shelves of this library provides an opportunity for individuals to act.  I am reminded of the words of Mother Teresa, peacemaker, pioneer and legend: 

"Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person."

That is how the Caleb Jeremiah Pulver Library came about: book by book, person by person.  The original book donors were individuals, students from Emerald High School, in a small town in South Carolina, USA.  The books were sent to honor the memory of our son.  Soon others were inspired by the kind acts of these students and they began sending books too. Friends and family and many strangers too, have chosen to honor Caleb’s memory by sending books from all around the world.  The books which are flowing in make this library a living, vital memory of our son.  It pleases me to know his name lives on in this wonderful way and that his spirit lives on too.  Now when we think of the staff, faculty and students at this school, we feel connected somehow. 

Caleb died when he was just 26, but he lived a rich, full life.  Books were instrumental in making that life so extraordinary.  S. I. Hayakawa, an American educator and US Senator from California, once said, 

"It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish."

Caleb read voraciously and echoed much of what he read in the choices he made in his life.  Caleb witnessed so much beauty in the world and lived his life with vigor, vitality, and gentleness.  He lived his life with enthusiasm and joy, fueled, in part, by all the beautiful magic he found in books.  He found great pleasure in reading and knew that books open the doors of the world and let in light and knowledge and opportunities to experience the world vicariously.  It is fitting that a library should be established to honor his memory.  The books that flow into this library will open the eyes and ears of all who read them.  That knowledge and beauty are part of Caleb’s legacy.  

Caleb was well read.  He seldom ventured out without a book in his pocket.  Ernest Hemingway’s novels propelled him to visit Pamplona, Spain to witness the running of the bulls.  Classic novels by Stevenson and others filled his young head with dreams of pirates and sailing ships which came alive for him when he saw the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea.   

Books played a significant role in learning new skills whether it was crewing a boat on the Charles River or running cross-country in the crisp New England air.  The pages of a book inspired him to scale the rocky walls of mountains.  Books lead him to his love of motorcycles.  Eventually he felt the sting of the wind and the joyous freedom of the road when he rode his motorcycle across the deserts of Arizona.  Books helped him master lighting and sound equipment for theater productions and inspired him to take a role as a squire in a renaissance faire.  He learned the basics of making chain mail from a book.     

It was a book that motivated his deep desire to serve his country in the United States Air Force.  His passion for reading made him an enthusiastic college student.

Caleb traveled to Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, Frankfurt, Tangiers, and saw a thousand other places we’ll never know about and he read about even more places. 

It is our wish that this library will continue to grow and that the patrons of this library will find the pleasures of reading.  Sharing good books and sharing good lives.   The students, faculty and staff can explore the world through books. 

I am grateful to you all for this opportunity to keep Caleb’s spirit alive.  I keep in mind the words of author Thomas Carlyle:

"A good book is the purest essence of a human soul."

If I were there speaking to you in person, I would close now with a gesture that has become very important to the Pulver family.  Whenever we gather, someone usually finds an opportunity to launch a flurry of sparkling, rainbow soap bubbles … always a moment of celebration and, now, a moment of remembrance…please indulge me …  [BLOW SOAP BUBBLES]

Thank you.  Caleb’s father and I wish you each blessings of joy…and the gift of books.


Contributing to Africa's Literacy & Education with Books:

The CALEB Library Project

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