This year marks the tenth annual National Whistleblower Appreciation Day, a moment to celebrate individuals who’ve sounded the alarm.

by Sarah Cords, The Progressive

Even before the U.S. Constitution was ratified, the Second Continental Congress had approved the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1788. The act, passed on July 30, makes it incumbent on citizens to report violations of the law: “That it is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other inhabitants thereof, to give the earliest information to Congress or any other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors, committed by any persons in the service of these states, which may come to their knowledge.”

The text describes whistle-blowing not as a “right” but, instead, a “duty.” There are real risks to those who blow the whistle: retaliation, loss of their careers, and even incarceration. But many who blow the whistle, like Edward Snowden, maintain they had no real choice—it was their duty to alert the public to illegality and fraud.

Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange rally outside of British Embassy .

In recent years, many whistleblower advocacy organizations, most notably the National Whistleblower Center (NWC), have been working to make July 30 permanently recognized as “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.”

Currently, National Whistleblower Day (NWD) is celebrated each year on an “ad hoc basis,” according to Stephen Kohn, whistleblower attorney and Chairman of the Board of the NWC. For the past decade, it has been declared annually by a U.S. Senate resolution; Kohn would like to see the president issue an Executive Order that would make the day of recognition permanent.

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