North to Alaska!
That’s where I’m headed next week and I’ll start checking off the newest box of my “bucket list,” the list of things I want to do before I “kick the bucket.”
I added Alaska recently. I had heard so much about the place in recent years that it drew me like no other place on the face of the earth. To me, it was like a “final frontier” much like the one mentioned in the original Star Trek television series . . .”To go . . . where no man has gone before.”
Of course man – and woman – have been traversing the land long before Europeans invaded the New World. Historians believe the Native Americans came to this continent through the land mass of Alaska that was once merged with Asia before some cataclysmic disaster or Plate change in the earth’s crust.
Why did I need a new bucket list?
Well, in November, 2013, I completed mine. I checked off the last box of my “to do list.” Mine was very modest with visiting Greece and Jerusalem heading the top of the list. I did zip-lining off of Cancun and had already jumped out of an airplane as well as repelled from a 200-foot tower. No, I never included bungee-jumping or eating chocolate-covered ants to the list. There are many things I’ve come to live without through my practice in meditation. Those attachments, had they ever been there, seem to drop off quickly.
You see, in November I laid a wreath at the grave site of first lieutenant Victor Lee Ellinger, one of the bravest young men to have given his life for his country. A sniper with the Viet cong shot and killed the then 24-year-old leader of the third platoon. I force-marched my platoon to come to his aid, but got there too late. Vic died before I got to him. Two of my soldiers, however, were medevac’d out of the hot and oppressive jungle from heat exhaustion because I pushed them so hard during the march.
I saluted Vic, standing at attention at the cemetery site in Staunton, VA, where his remains were interred. I left a baseball-style cap resting at the base of his tombstone. It was an army cap with the words “Bronze Star” written on it. I got it but never wore it and had never planned to wear it. I knew of only one man who deserved to wear it. Victor Lee.
That was it. I checked off my bucket list and returned to Philadelphia shortly after that Veterans’ Day ceremony that I had cooked up. I either curse out God or Vic or possibly both as tears flooded down my face. “Why did you have to up and die on me?” I cried out to Vic. Getting no answer, I spoke to the Creator, wondering why he always took the best of men in war and left soldiers such as me, the unworthy ones, to live and come home with guilt and remorse.
I’ll think of Vic when I see grizzly bears and moose and the caribou in Alaska next week. I’d like to plant a flag somewhere there in his honor. I will have completed a new bucket list during the visit. Now, all I’ll have to do is create another . . . Let’s see . . .
Publish eight more books
See my son finish UTI (Universal Technical Institute
Help the Center for Contemporary Mysticism in Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia go national
Vote for a woman for president of the United States
Inspire more people to read and appreciate the written word in more than snatches of 150-words-or-less.
Share my love with five or six people reading this blog post on a visit to their exotic abode.