This week my blog is being taken over by Jessica Charles.  This from Jessica: I am Corporal Joshua Alexander Harton’s Big Sister. I am his sister and I protected him his whole life. That is until September 18th, 2010 when a bullet from Taliban’s rifle went through his neck, cutting his carotid artery, moving through his torso and destroying organs and finally leaving his body at the left hip and shattering his Kevlar armor. I am Josh’s sister and I need you to know that my little brother is dead and my epic life will never be the same again.


Since I was 15 months old, I have been a Big Sister. It was my first identity. Of course you can say I was a daughter first, but that is a fairly passive role. Big Sister on the other hand, was involved. It involved being teacher, friend, confidant, tormentor and of course protector. My mother likes to tell people how I would sit by my infant brother and scream at ANYONE who came near. A cat passing by his crib would get an earful of, “That’s MY brother”. At  my brother’s baptism I even shouted those words at the pastor as he introduced my brother to the congregation. Yes, in my mind, I came before God when it came to that little boy.

Then, September 18th, 2010 God decided that Josh, my Boshy, was supposed to leave me. At sunset in a place more like Hell then anything we can imagine, my brother, an SPC in the United States Army, was killed while defending a convoy from Taliban terrorists. It was quick and dare I hope painless?

I received the news first from my grandmother on Sunday, September 19th. I answered the phone and she was crying and I thought, “Dear Lord, is she having a heart attack and calling me instead of 911?”.

“Josh is Dead” she said.


Josh is Dead”.

In the Bible we read about the wailing and tearing of clothes when a loved one dies. It seems overly dramatic, even for the Bible. I wailed. I tore at my hair and my clothes. My husband took the phone. Then a knock at the door told us that the official word was here. Two men in dress uniform were here to inform me that my brother was dead.

Shock, despair, grief all of the usual thing followed. I couldn’t look at my 3 year old son because he looked like my brother’s childhood self. I was 3 months pregnant and could not take anything to numb the pain. At my brother’s Wake he was toasted by all except me. There was this sharp pain every time I breathed. And a question I could not answer, “Am I still a Big Sister?”.

Twenty months have passed since then. I have a beautiful daughter. Her Hebrew name is T’shua meaning Salvation, the same as Joshua. I am a wife and mother of two but I know that I can never stop being Josh’s Big Sister.
Big Sister is still an involved role. Now it involves sharing his story and protecting his extended family, the U.S. Military. The men and women who choose to serve this country are fighting for us out there in the world. The very least I can do is fight for them here at home.

Support our troops, not just with words but with actions. Shake their hands and hug them when you see them. Send a letter, send a care package, send a job their way. Because when you don’t, when you ignore our Active Military and our Veterans, when you tell them they have PTSD but you are not a doctor, when you  look at them like animals instead of heroes; I will be there and I will stand between you and them. Because I am a Big Sister, and you can’t pick on my little brother.


You can visit Jessica’s blog at “Always His Sister.”  And you can follow her on Twitter.

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