The Department of Defense will showcase its anti-drug awareness and educational activities in American neighborhoods and schools during the 10th annual "Red Ribbon Week" at the Pentagon, Oct 23-25, 2000. Each year, DoD and the Services sponsor a series of Red Ribbon Week activities to focus attention on the destructive effects that drugs have on our nation. This year's theme is "Lead by Example."
"Red Ribbon Week highlights local community programs that focus on children and families by recognizing outstanding service-level drug awareness programs," said Ana Maria Salazar, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for drug enforcement policy and support. "The Service programs receiving the annual Secretary of Defense Community Drug Awareness Awards this year, feature service members interacting with military and civilian communities throughout America as drug abuse educators and youth role models," she said.
In 1985, Special Agent Enrique S. "Kiki" Camarena of the Drug Enforcement Administration was kidnapped in Guadalajara, Mexico and killed by drug traffickers. Shortly after Camarena's death, citizens from his hometown of Calexico, Calif. began to wear red ribbons to remember him and to commemorate his sacrifice. The anti-drug message spread quickly and in 1988 the National Family Partnership took the Red Ribbon Celebration nationwide. The Red Ribbon itself now symbolizes a continuing commitment to reducing the demand for illicit drugs within our communities.
Since 1990, the Secretary of Defense has recognized Red Ribbon Week as the appropriate time to acknowledge the Department's community drug awareness efforts and to encourage demand reduction activities by the men and women of the Department of Defense. During the three-day event at the Pentagon, the department recognizes outstanding anti-drug awareness programs, and sponsors numerous displays highlighting worldwide community outreach efforts in the defense community.
On Monday, Oct. 23, at 11 a.m., Salazar will host the opening ceremony for Red Ribbon Week activities. Mryna Camerena, sister of slain Special Agent Camarena, will speak about the dangers of drugs. Bernard D. Rostker, undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness will present the 10th annual Secretary of Defense Community Drug Awareness Awards to five service recipients. Also, Randy Vazquez, who portrays a Marine gunnery sergeant in the hit TV series "JAG," will be on hand to help commemorate the event.
Other events during the week will include apprearances by Vasquez, former Washington Redskins linebacker Ken Harvey and country singer Shane Minor. More details on these events will be described in later advisories.
All Red Ribbon Week events are open to the media.