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Jennifer Hamady

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The Ridenhour Awards

Posted: 04/26/2012 5:09 pm

In my last article for the The Huffington Post, I talked about how easy it is to make a difference. How the smallest of kindnesses can make a huge impact on another's life; how even a few words can act as an invitation to a whole new world.

Timing is everything, they say. And on the day the article came out, my father extended to me one such invitation, to The Ridenhour Awards.

My background is in psychology and the arts. And while I am passionate about human rights, social justice, and political integrity, I participate in those worlds more passively than actively. Until yesterday afternoon. When I was front and center for the celebration of men and women who have dedicated their lives to these efforts.

The Ridenhour Awards -- presented annually by The Fertel Foundation and The Nation Institute -- honor men and women for acts of truth-telling that protect the public interest, promote social justice, and illuminate a more just vision of society. Four awards, presented for courage, literature, documentary film, and truth-telling, celebrate the spirit and contribution of Ron Ridenhour, whose 1969 letter to Congress and the Pentagon describing the horrific events at My Lai -- the infamous massacre of the Vietnam War -- brought the scandal to the attention of the American public and the world.

Hearing the speeches of this year's recipients, as well as the moving words of those introducing them, was a reminder of the indomitable spirit of human beings, of our ability to overcome adversity and injustice and more -- to sacrifice comfort in order to make a difference, regardless of the personal cost. Unlike so many of us armchair warriors, these men and women don't merely point out what is wrong with the world. They do whatever it takes to make it right, even when the odds and others are determinedly positioned against them.

Thank you to everyone at Fertel, The Nation, and Project on Government Oversight for your important and impactful work. And for the reminder that we all -- regardless of what we do for a living -- have the choice, and the ability, to put others before ourselves and to bravely risk everything in order to make a real difference.

And to my father... thank you for including me in what matters to you. And for making such a big difference -- in so many ways -- in my life.

 
 
 

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