It was one year ago today that we got the news that Chris Battle had lost his fight against kidney cancer. His was a brave and noble effort. The Kidney Cancer Chronicles that Chris and Dena posted during their family’s ordeal was an inspiration to those of us who followed each message, looking for strings of hope that we could hang our prayers on.
The picture above is one I took when Security Debrief editor, Justin Hienz, and I visited with Chris on the back deck of his home. It is one of my favorites because it captures his “contemplative” side. There are many other pictures of him that range from the official DHS portrait to ones that are just plain silly-looking. Each is a visual reminder of a side of Chris we came to know and love.
Yet, the one from the back deck is extra special, not in the “Bryce-Harper-is-a-special-baseball-player-and-we-aren’t-sending-him-back-to-Syracuse-to-work-on-his-miserable-batting-average” kind of way, but because it was taken when he was talking about how Security Debrief could become more relevant, fresh and substantive without his day-to-day involvement.
It was vintage Chris Battle – looking over the horizon, thinking about how to adapt to changing circumstances and perceptions, contemplating ways to improve and grow. It was a discussion that was fueled by his vast experience, knowledge of homeland security and his understanding that communications vehicles were changing. He knew Security Debrief was a part of his legacy, and he wanted it to grow beyond its beginnings and be around long after his battle with cancer had ended.
I think back on that afternoon quite often, and I must confess, I’ve not lived up to his expectations over this past year. There are many things he wanted us to do to stay active in the ongoing homeland security/homeland defense debate. I have not done it — and there is a lot of regret in that thought even though I know that my opinions and observations are not very important.
In the coming days, I plan to write more frequently, to explore homeland security policies, procedures and personnel actions. Whether that is viewed as a promise or a warning – well, it really does not matter all that much to me. Chris asked me to be a contributor to the homeland security debate. To honor his legacy, it is a promise I will do my best to keep.