November 11, 1963
Sally Jackson is 6 months old. She is born into a country flushed with relief from the ending of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which came to a close only a year before. Her first word that she ever speaks is “Cuba”. Jim and Laura Jackson, understandably, were not overjoyed to hear this.
November 11, 1968
Sally Jackson is 5 years old. Both of her parents die in a plane crash 150 miles south of Lake Ontario at 3 A.M. Little information is given out about the incident other than there were no survivors. The reality of the situation is that all the passengers on the plane- including Sally’s parents- were being flown to a special award ceremony for veterans who had served time in the military during the Korean War. The plane was taken over by a Korean enemy sympathizer, and was targeted specially for its particular chosen passengers.
November 11, 1978
Sally Jackson is 15 years old. At school, they are talking about the different branches of the military. Her teacher asks her to recite the different branches, but when she starts to say “Marines”, she chokes up, and her teacher moves on quickly. Later, her boyfriend teases her for starting to cry in class, and she slaps him before breaking up with him and storming home to her Uncle Rich’s house, where she locks herself in her room and cries some more.
November 11, 1993
Percy Jackson is less than 3 months old. He is born into a country still recovering from the numerous losses it experienced during the brief, two-year Gulf War. It is nearly 9 months after the occurrence in the World Trade Center garage in which a bomb exploded, killing 6 and injuring well over a thousand people. The men convicted were suspected to be involved with the terrorist group Al Qaeda.
November 11, 1996
Percy Jackson is just over 3 years old. It is less than 5 months after the disastrous incident in Saudi Arabia on June 25. A truck bomb exploded outside Khobar Towers military complex in Dhahran. 19 American servicemen are killed, and hundreds are injured. Percy still swears that one of his first memories is of seeing a map on the TV of a distant country, far far away, in which life was chaotic and cruel. But what does a 3-year old care of such problems?
November 11, 2001
Percy Jackson is 8 years old. He is supposed to take a math test today, but the teacher tells everyone to go home early. She sounds scared. Percy shrugs it off, and grabs his backpack as he leaves. As he heads home, he can see the New York City skyline scattered along his route: the Statue of Liberty, the Twin Towers, and the Empire State Building. He looks again at the two towers, and furrows his brow. There is something funny sticking out the side of one of them. He stops and stares. The thing is big and white and burning. He can hear sirens wailing. Even from here, he can see objects dropping from the top of the building (it isn’t until he’s older that his mom tells him those were people jumping out of the windows). He watches in disbelief as another object crashes into the second tower, and he realizes only then that the two things are planes. He runs home to tell his mom, but she is glued to the TV, set to the news, and tears are running down her cheeks as she sobs. They watch together as everything on the TV screen falls, one after the other. The people fall, then the planes fall, and then the towers fall. And the spirits of people all over the world fall together. On that day, he learned a new word: terrorist. Today, a few months later, he learns another new word: veteran.
November 11, 2003
Percy Jackson is still enjoying presents from his 10th birthday a few months earlier. One of his favorite gifts was a set of walkie-talkies. When his fifth-grade class went on a field trip to the Saratoga battlefield, and the guide was talking about the Revolutionary War; before he fired the cannon at the school bus, Percy kept asking about wars that were going on in current times, and the guide was surprised at being asked at such a mature question. So he told him about the U.S. invading Iraq, and explained that he didn’t know if it would become a war or not. Now, whenever Grover came over to hang out, the two boys would play with the walkie-talkies and pretend that they were U.S. troops penetrating enemy lines in Iraq. Percy’s mom distantly watched them play the first few times, but upon hearing the plot of their game, she took away Percy’s walkie-talkies and made them both promise never to play that game ever again. They didn’t.
November 11, 2005
Percy Jackson is 12 years old. He has just returned to school after the wildest summer of his life so far, with a whole new world of people, creatures, gods, monsters, and adventures. He doesn’t know how he can survive the school year after such a thrilling time, but he’s already a few months into the 7th grade, so he knows he’ll be okay. Today at school, the teacher is talking about something, something about the military, but Percy is daydreaming again. He’s thinking about his new friends, about Camp Half-Blood, about killing monsters and fighting gods, and about Annabeth. He’s tapping his pencil distractedly on his desk. Suddenly he stops. There are only two sounds in the room: the tapping of his pencil, and the heart-wrenching sobs of a girl who sits two desks to his right. She’s crying. He wonders why; he hasn’t been paying attention. The teacher, who is getting slightly misty-eyed, comes over to the girl and pats her back. The girl is struggling to say something between her broken sobs, and he can only pick up random, off-hand words: “dad...deployed...8 months....bomb...letter....funeral...folded-up flag.” The words don’t make sense together, at least to someone out of context like Percy. He sits up in his desk and looks at the board. Two words are written on the clean white surface: Veteran’s Day.
November 11, 2009Percy Jackson is 16 years old. The Second Titan War is over; it ended a few months ago. That battle is over, but the battle raging in his heart, soul, and mind is not quite finished. He saw too much, felt too much, cried too much, loved too much. So many of his friends died. So many. He would need at least 5 sets of hands and toes to be able to count them all off. Castor, Lee Fletcher, Daedalus, Silena, Charlie, Luke... all great heroes- even Luke- who didn’t deserve to die. But those are names that he can’t even remember anymore. He remembers none of the brave souls who died. His memory is gone, and so are his friends. But had he still possessed his memory, he would be weak with grief, like soldier coming back from the war with post-traumatic stress. And maybe, had Hera left his memories, that’s exactly what would have happened to the hardened boy: he would have come back broken, crushed from the guilt and grief. But there was no way to find out. He did not know them anymore. He could not reflect upon their service, their lives, their faces. And perhaps that was the greatest sin: one of the best wartime-heroes, one of the few who had survived, was not given the chance to be honored, because nobody could find him, and he could not be proud, because he did not remember, and he could not be told of his great service, because he was alone. So, is ignorance truly bliss? Maybe for some. But not old veterans in the hospital who look down at their body and see that they are missing a leg, but that are so old and alone and forgetful that they can not remember how they lost that leg, and no loved ones come to visit anymore to tell them what happened, and all of their comrades died in battle. But maybe for Percy Jackson, a veteran who still has so much potential and love to give. Only time will tell. But for now, at least, the young veteran would not remember this November.