Each year, the nation celebrates Red Ribbon Week. However, many people aren’t quite sure what it is, or how it got started. Red Ribbon Week is a campaign dedicated to bringing awareness to drug, alcohol, and violence prevention. It is observed during October each year in the United States. It is the largest, and oldest, drug prevention program in the country.
Red Ribbon Week’s Origins
In 1988, the National Family Partnership organized the first Nationwide Red Ribbon Week in partnership with President and First Lady Reagan. Red ribbons began showing up in 1985, in response to the murder of Special Agent Enrique Camarena. Camarena was a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) Agent, who was kidnapped, brutally tortured and killed by the drug traffickers he was investigating in Mexico in 1985. He joined the DEA to make a difference, and his death angered parents and children across the country.
In honor of Camarena’s memory and the work he did to rid the country of illegal drugs, Camerena’s childhood friend, Henry Lozano and Congressman Duncan Hunter created “Camarena Club”. They began wearing red satin ribbons to show their opposition to drugs. The symbol spread across the country. Soon, parents who were sick of the destruction caused by alcohol and drugs joined them. They formed coalitions, coalitions that adopted the symbol of Camarena’s memory, the red satin ribbon.
Red Ribbon Week Today
Today, Red Ribbon Week is celebrated during the last week of October each year. It is a way for schools, businesses, and families to educate their youth and get them to participate in drug prevention activities. Red Ribbon Week activities reach millions of people each year. Wearing red ribbons during the month of October represents a pledge to live drug free and honors the sacrifice of Special Agent Camarena and others who have lost their lives fighting against drugs.
From Red Ribbon Week photo contests to Red Ribbon Week-themed essays, schools take part each year in a big way, and parents are always encouraged to participate. Businesses often hand out Red Ribbons, and employees wear them to show their support. Rallies are often planned in cities, and even in the nation’s capital to bring awareness to this important subject.
Now, even the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts can earn a DEA Red Ribbon Patch.
See what your community is doing this year to commemorate Red Ribbon Week, and make sure to wear your ribbon.