One of this year's Ridenhour recipients was Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who sparked immigration reform debate at risk of deportation. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh.)

Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

Next week marks the 10th anniversary of an event that celebrates truth telling in the public interest and honors the legacy of Ron Ridenhour, a man not often remembered, who irreversibly changed the course of history.

As a soldier in Vietnam, Ridenhour had started investigating troubling rumors of a terrible war crime committed by U.S. soldiers. In 1969, after returning home, he wrote a stunning letter to Congress and the Pentagon in which he described the horrific slaughter of innocent men, women and children. Ridenhour was a key source for the series on My Lai that Sy Hersh wrote for the Dispatch News Service, which later earned Hersh the Pulitzer Prize. The story of the massacre provoked widespread outrage and was a turning point in U.S. public opinion of the war. Ridenhour himself went on to become an award-winning investigative journalist before his sudden, tragic death at the age of 52.

At a moment when the government is aggressively clamping down on information, it’s worth remembering — and honoring — the importance of whistleblowers like Ridenhour, who tell us the hard truth even when nobody wants to hear it.

Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.