Major General Paul Eaton (Ret.)
Major General Paul Eaton (Ret.)

How can we pro­tect and expand the free­doms that we cher­ish so deeply at a time when pow­er­ful forces in this coun­try are deter­mined to con­tract them?

That’s a ques­tion pro­gres­sive activists and orga­ni­za­tions all over this coun­try are wrestling with as the 2018 midterms approach.

It’s tough to go on offense when the right wing has com­plete con­trol of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment — but it’s not impossible.

Progress is pos­si­ble even in the most try­ing and dif­fi­cult of times, par­tic­u­lar­ly at the state and local lev­el. For exam­ple, look at what’s hap­pen­ing in Olympia, where the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate has been trans­formed from a grave­yard of progress into a pro­duc­tive, car­ing, and delib­er­a­tive leg­isla­tive body thanks to the arrival of Sen­a­tor Man­ka Dhin­gra (D‑45th Dis­trict: Red­mond, Kirk­land, Wood­inville, Sammamish).

That trans­for­ma­tion did not just hap­pen on its own.

Lynn Allen
Found­ing NPI board mem­ber Lynn Allen (Pho­to: Lin­coln Potter)

Under­pin­ning every hard-won pro­gres­sive vic­to­ry is a sto­ry… a sto­ry of peo­ple knock­ing down bar­ri­ers and over­com­ing obsta­cles, often over a peri­od of many years.

These sto­ries deserve to be told, and their heroes celebrated.

In this age of fear, uncer­tain­ty, and doubt, it’s hard to keep a cheer­ful atti­tude, which the clos­ing words of NPI’s Creed remind us to do.

Nev­er­the­less, that must be our aim.

It’s eas­i­er to keep a cheery out­look when one has rea­son to be hope­ful and pre­pared to work for change. Find­ing that moti­va­tion is the key.

We know that we can find inspi­ra­tion in the good works of our best and bright­est peo­ple. Rec­og­niz­ing them is valu­able not just because of the impor­tance of say­ing thank you, but because of the pow­er of their example.

That’s why, last year, NPI decid­ed to cre­ate the Lynn Allen Awards. Named for our found­ing board­mem­ber Lynn Allen, who trag­i­cal­ly died of ovar­i­an can­cer in 2011, these awards hon­or peo­ple who have made extra­or­di­nary con­tri­bu­tions to pro­gres­sive pol­i­tics and pub­lic policy.

Each year, we rec­og­nize two recip­i­ents of dif­fer­ent gen­ders with Lynn Allen Awards. Lynn was a big believ­er in thank­ing peo­ple for their work, so it is tru­ly fit­ting that these awards are named for her.

Major General Paul Eaton (Ret.)
Major Gen­er­al Paul Eaton (Ret.)

We are delight­ed today to announce our first 2018 Lynn Allen Award hon­oree: Major Gen­er­al Paul Eaton (Retired), the Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of the VetVoice Foun­da­tion. Major Gen­er­al Eaton served our coun­try with dis­tinc­tion for over three decades as a com­mand­ing offi­cer in the Unit­ed States Army, with com­bat and post-com­bat assign­ments in Iraq, Bosnia, and Somalia.

Here’s an extend­ed bio­graph­i­cal sketch:

As a major gen­er­al he was assigned to Iraq from 2003 to 2004 as Com­mand­ing Gen­er­al of the Coali­tion Mil­i­tary Assis­tance Train­ing Team (CMATT), where he designed, manned, trained and equipped the Iraqi armed forces for the Iraqi Min­istry of Defense and the secu­ri­ty forces for the Inte­ri­or Min­istry. Pri­or to that assign­ment, he com­mand­ed the Army’s Infantry Cen­ter and was Chief of Infantry for the Army.

Eaton has appeared on a num­ber of news and com­men­tary pro­grams includ­ing Face the Nation, Hard­ball and all major networks.

Dur­ing the 2008 cam­paign sea­son, he advised can­di­dates for both con­gres­sion­al and pres­i­den­tial campaigns.

For the past five years, he served as a senior advi­sor to the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Net­work. Addi­tion­al­ly, Eaton has recent­ly par­tic­i­pat­ed with the Depart­ment of Ener­gy in non-pro­lif­er­a­tion work.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from West Point and a master’s in French Polit­i­cal Sci­ence from Mid­dle­bury Col­lege. He is mar­ried to PJ, has two sons and a daugh­ter, all soldiers.

In May of 2008, we were hon­ored to have Major Gen­er­al Eaton (Ret.) as the keynote speak­er at our very first Spring Fundrais­ing Gala in Red­mond, which was a spec­tac­u­lar suc­cess. We are delight­ed to wel­come him back to the gala this year to rec­og­nize him not only for his exem­plary ser­vice to our nation, but for his sub­stan­tial and deeply appre­ci­at­ed con­tri­bu­tions to pro­gres­sive causes.

Major Gen­er­al Eaton showed great courage in 2007 when, short­ly after retir­ing from the Army, he decid­ed to speak out in oppo­si­tion to the Bush admin­is­tra­tion’s coun­ter­pro­duc­tive plans to esca­late the occu­pa­tion of Iraq. He fol­lowed that up by work­ing with Dar­cy Burn­er and oth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­gres­sion­al can­di­dates to craft what became known as A Respon­si­ble Plan to End the War in Iraq.

At and the VetVoice Foun­da­tion, Major Gen­er­al Eaton works with North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute Pres­i­dent Rick Heg­dahl to give a voice to vet­er­ans on mat­ters of nation­al secu­ri­ty, vet­er­ans’ care, and every­day issues that affect the lives of those who served and their families.

Eaton con­tin­ues to fear­less­ly speak out in defense of our coun­try’s val­ues, as he did this week after The Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed that Don­ald Trump has instruct­ed the Pen­ta­gon to plan a grand mil­i­tary parade to stroke his ego.

Here’s what Eaton had to say about that (empha­sis is his):

Don­ald Trump has con­tin­u­al­ly shown him­self to have author­i­tar­i­an ten­den­cies, and this is just anoth­er wor­ri­some example.

For some­one who just declared that it was “trea­so­nous” to not applaud him, and for some­one who has, in the past, admired the tac­tics of every­one from Sad­dam Hus­sein to Vladimir Putin, it is clear that a mil­i­tary parade isn’t about salut­ing the mil­i­tary — it is about mak­ing a dis­play of the mil­i­tary salut­ing him.

The mil­i­tary is not Don­ald Trump’s to use and abuse in this way. Our mil­i­tary is the very best in the world — they are not to be reduced to stage­craft to prop up Don­ald Trump’s image. Any com­man­der in chief who respects the tra­di­tions of the mil­i­tary would under­stand that.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, we do not have a com­man­der in chief, right now, as much as we have wannabe banana repub­lic strong­man.

In an inter­view with WBUR, Eaton added:

This is not about hon­or­ing the troops. This is about the pres­i­dent the Unit­ed States. This has noth­ing to do with hon­or­ing the troops. Parades serve a use­ful pur­pose in the sol­dier­iza­tion phase of devel­op­ing a sol­dier. We do it in basic train­ing, we do it at West Point. Once in a rare, rare moon do we do it, ’91 was the last time we did such a parade to rec­og­nize the return of our troops [from the Gulf War] with Gen. [Nor­man] Schwarzkopf in the lead. That’s the last time we did this. Parades are a huge cost, cost in time and cost in mon­ey, and we don’t have enough of either for the cir­cum­stances that we’re in today.

We at NPI proud­ly asso­ciate our­selves with Major Gen­er­al Eaton’s remarks and thank him for his bold­ness and can­dor. At a time when our coun­try’s val­ues are under attack on an unceas­ing basis, it is imper­a­tive that voic­es like his be heard. We will not allow our democ­ra­cy to be tak­en from us with­out a fight.

Read­ers, we hope you feel the same way. We invite you to join us on Sat­ur­day, April 7th, as we rec­og­nize Major Gen­er­al Paul Eaton (Ret.) with a Lynn Allen Award. 

Here are the details for this year’s gala:

  • What: NPI’s 2018 Spring Fundrais­ing Gala
  • Where: Ren­ton Com­mu­ni­ty Center
  • When: Sat­ur­day, April 7th, 2018 | Recep­tion at 5:30 PM; pro­gram at 7 PM
  • Who: Join the NPI team and Lynn Allen Award recip­i­ent Paul Eaton
  • Why: Because an effec­tive resis­tance needs orga­ni­za­tions test­ing pro­gres­sive ideas and build­ing per­ma­nent infrastructure

Be inspired to con­tin­ue work­ing for a pro­gres­sive future for our region and coun­try: join us on April 7th at the Ren­ton Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter! Fol­low this link to secure­ly buy your indi­vid­ual, house­hold, or liv­ing light­ly ticket.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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