Macon native Ambassador Jonathan Addleton, who recently received a “constructive dissent” Foreign Service Award, can thank another Georgian for the honor.

Although the award, the only one given by the federal government that honors dissent, is named after former Secretary of State Christian Herter, it was Georgia native Dean Rusk, secretary of state from 1961-69, who was ultimately responsible for making the award possible.

The irony is that when he approved a conduit for dissent in the department in 1967, Mr. Rusk, as secretary of state, was figuratively on the front lines defending the U.S. war on Vietnam and was plagued by dissent from both inside and outside government.

Another Georgian, Vince Farley, the current honorary consul based in Atlanta for the African country of Mali, recalls Mr. Rusk approving freedom of discussion on policy matters as long as it did not involve the Vietnam War.

As a junior foreign service officer, Mr. Farley in 1967 joined a group of 10 junior- and middle-grade officers who volunteered to participate in what became known as the Open Forum Panel to encourage creative thinking on vital policy issues, including presentations of differing viewpoints.

In the highly charged political atmosphere of the war, Mr. Rusk inaugurated the panel to monitor the efficacy of official reporting mechanisms. Eventually, the panel  was tasked with monitoring the department’s “Dissent Channel,” allowing members of the professional diplomatic community to express themselves without fear of reprisal.

Mr. Addleton was presented with the “constructive dissent” award for his dispute with the department over a commentary that he had written and was forbidden to be published about a vicious October 2012 attack on Mala Yousafzai, an adolescent girl who championed female education in Pakistan.

At the 30th anniversary of the Open Forum in 1997, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that “Ensuring support for programs that promote freedom of expression remains essential.”

Mr. Rusk was born in Cherokee County and was educated in Atlanta’s public schools. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Davidson College and became a Rhodes Scholar at St. John’s College, Oxford. He joined the State Department in 1945.

To read the Global Atlanta article about Mr. Addleton’s award, click here.