My acceptance speech for the 2016 Blueprint Enduring Impact Whistleblowing Prize
(As read by Aaron Kirkhouse -- May 9, 2016)
Good evening from sunny Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
I wish I could be there to accept this award in person, but since I cannot, I am delighted to have Aaron Kirkhouse accept it on my behalf.
As you know, I am held in an American military prison with only a small library and without access to the internet. In this time of rapid technological advances in social networking and the machine learning age, it's quite an odd predicament to find myself in.
Today, when once obscure online refrains are now finding their way into the global lexicon -- "pics or it didn't happen" -- it's easy to feel disconnected from a world exponentially intertwined and dependent on technology.
As a military prisoner, my public persona is carefully controlled and enforced. Any interviews or statements that I make -- such as this one -- must be written or dictated through someone else who types it up on my behalf. I am not allowed to be recorded over the telephone, do any video interviews, or have any pictures taken -- with the exception of the occasional grainy mug shot. For those living in my situation, it's easy to start feeling invisible -- left behind and dismissed by the rest of a fast-paced society.
Despite these obstacles, I know I need to keep going. It is important to stay vocal. To stay creative. Active. Motivated. To keep fighting.
I keep fighting to survive and thrive. I am fighting my court-martial conviction and sentence before a military appeals court, starting this month. I am fighting to make the full investigation by the FBI public. I am fighting to grow my hair beyond the two-inch male standards by the U.S. military.
I keep fighting to warn the world of the dangerous trend in which the only information you can access is the kind that someone with money or power wants you to see.
And, I keep fighting to let people know that they too can create change. By staying informed and educated, anyone can make a difference. You have the ability to fight for a better world for everyone -- even for the most desperate, those at the bottom of the social ladder, refugees from conflict, queer and trans individuals, prisoners, and those born into poverty.
Thank you all so very much for your support over the years, and thank you to Lady Hollick, Mr. Davis, and Dr. Dreyfus for selecting me to be the first person to receive this award. It is truly an an amazing treat. I'm honored that my voice continues to be heard. Thank you for all for listening and choosing to fight alongside me. And of course, thank you to Aaron Kirkhouse for accepting this award for me.
I am grateful to you all -- for being here tonight, and being there for me tomorrow. Think what we might accomplish if we do one thing -- perhaps a grand undertaking or even what may seem to be a tiny, insignificant gesture -- each day with the simple goal of making the world a better place.
Good night everyone =)
Aaron Kirkhouse (above) accepting the Blueprint Enduring Impact Whistleblowing Prize on Chelsea Manning's behalf.
This piece originally appeared on Chelsea Manning's Medium blog.