WASHINGTON — The United States Drug Enforcement Administration kicked off its annual Red Ribbon Campaign, the nation’s largest drug prevention effort, Oct. 23.
“Learning about the dangers of drugs, and talking about this with family and friends, reduces drug use, drug misuse, and addiction—especially for young people,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said. “Through the Red Ribbon Campaign, we shine a light on the grave danger of drugs and further DEA’s core mission of making our communities safer and healthier.”
The National Red Ribbon Campaign began after drug traffickers in Mexico tortured and brutally murdered Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in March 1985. Red Ribbon Week is officially celebrated nationally from October 23-31; however, communities and school districts nationwide hold events throughout the month.
The Red Ribbon Campaign is dedicated to helping preserve Special Agent Camarena’s memory and further the cause for which he gave his life: the fight against the violence of drug crime and the misery of addiction. By gathering together in special events and wearing red ribbons during the last week in October, Americans from all walks of life demonstrate their opposition to drugs.
Red Ribbon Week started as a local effort in Camarena’s hometown of Calexico, California, when former Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Camarena’s high school friend, Henry Lozano, created Camarena Clubs to keep Kiki’s memory alive. The National Family Partnership turned Red Ribbon Week into a national drug awareness campaign, an eight-day event proclaimed by the U.S. Congress and chaired by then President and Mrs. Reagan.
Approximately 80 million people participate in Red Ribbon events every year.
Administrator Milgram delivers keynote remarks for this year’s rally. The event also features oral history interviews with members of Special Agent Camarena’s family. In addition, the Camarena family leads this year’s Red Ribbon Pledge, with Dora Camarena Soto, Special Agent Camarena’s mother who recently passed away at the age of 97, providing a recorded Spanish translation.
During the rally, DEA recognizes the winners of the 2021 DEA Community Drug Prevention Awards and the Red Ribbon Visual Arts Contest winners. Additional features include a virtual color guard by the Junior ROTC Cadet Color Guard from Arlington, Virginia; a spoken word performance; and musical performances by the Westminster Presbyterian Church choristers from Alexandria, Virginia.
In addition to the rally, DEA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, are sponsoring their 6th Annual Red Ribbon Week Campus Video PSA Contest. To learn more, visit www.campusdrugprevention.gov/