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Spreading The Red Ribbon Week Message

Jenny Decker RN's picture

Schools across America are spreading the red ribbon week message. It is a message of drug prevention. Driving by a school, you may notice red ribbons hung up on fences, or you may see all the kids playing out on the playground wearing all red tops. Red Ribbon Week is one of the “oldest and largest drug prevention campaigns in the country,“ writes drugsrdumb.com.

The week may take place different weeks of October, depending on the school, but it most often occurs the week before, the week it was planned, or the week after. This is common. The dates for 2009 are October 17-25. This celebration is a way for communities, individuals, and children to stand up to drugs, to say, “No!” and to make a commitment to drug prevention and education and to live free from drugs. The ultimate goal is a big one, but one that we can meet together, because the children of America are making the commitment, why can’t adults? The goal is to make America completely drug free.

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So why are red ribbons used? Red ribbons are used in commemoration of a DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena who sacrificed his life to keep America and America’s children drug free. He wanted to make a difference. Though he grew up on lowly circumstances, he went to college, served in the Marines, and became a police officer, finally deciding to join the U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Camarena took an undercover job in Mexico, which involved investigation into a drug cartel. This drug cartel was believed to include officers in the Mexico army, police, and government, a dangerous job to say the least. Camarena left his office on February 7, 1985 to meet his wife for lunch. One month later, he was found in a shallow grave and he had been tortured to death.

As a result, Camarena’s Congressman, Duncan Hunter, and his high school friend Henry Lozano decided to do something in his honor. They began “Camarena Clubs” in Imperial Valley, California because this is where he was from. Hundreds of these club members pledged to be drug free to honor Camarena. These coalitions eventually began to wear red ribbons made of satin to symbolize his memory. From these clubs, America has launched the Red Ribbon Week Campaign.

The Red Ribbon Week is not only in honor of Camarena, but it is also a sign of support for the DEA and it’s efforts to prevent and educate about drug abuse. The red ribbon signifies the deep commitment one makes in order to stay free of drugs and shows their opposition to drugs. Homage is paid to Agent Camarena, and all other men and women who lost their lives in a similar way.