Thoughts of Red Ribbon Week take us to memories of excited elementary students passing out ribbons and coloring posters. For many kids, this is the first prevention message they will hear. Historically, Red Ribbon Week started on a much sadder note. National Red Ribbon Week celebrations began in 1988 to honor the memory of Sgt. Enrique Camarena, a DEA officer who died fighting a global war against drugs. Sgt. Camarena’s family and friends wore red ribbons to remind others of his sacrifice that had been made in the war on drugs.
We continue to wear red ribbons as the battle continues in our communities, neighborhoods, families and schools. In our daily work in the substance abuse field, both prevention and treatment, it is easy to get bogged down in the daily setbacks: the relapses, the missed appointments, the generational attitudes and behaviors which perpetuate in our communities. Red Ribbon week is a time each year to focus on the positives, the sacrifices made and the successes and progress that have been achieved. As we wear our Red Ribbons this year, we remember Sergeant Camarena and his sacrifice and the work that goes on with the hope of a renewed energy and enthusiasm for the difficult work we do. May we find the same enthusiasm and excitement of Red Ribbon Week as our elementary students who are learning to “Respect Myself and Be Drug Free” during Red Ribbon Week 2015.