Observance runs through Oct. 31
Red Ribbon Week began in remembrance of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Agent Enrique Camarena who was kidnapped and murdered in Mexico in 1985. Agent Camarena had been working undercover for the DEA and was key in developing information that led to the eradication of large-scale narcotics manufacturing operations in Mexico. Mexican cartel leaders sought revenge for these operations, murdering alleged informants and ultimately, Agent Camarena.
Following his death, in Agent Camarena’s hometown, Calexico, Calif., the public outpouring of support turned in to an organized community response in which citizens dawned red ribbons. They became a voice for prevention in order to reduce the demand for illegal drugs and the use of drugs in America. The following year the California State PTA adopted the Red Ribbon Campaign. Then, in 1988 Red Ribbon Week was recognized nationally with President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan serving as the Honorary Chairs.
Today, the Red Ribbon Celebration brings millions of people together to raise awareness regarding the need for alcohol, tobacco and other drug and violence prevention, early intervention, and treatment services. It is the largest, most visible prevention awareness campaign observed annually in the United States.