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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 533-02
October 18, 2002

DOD "RED RIBBON WEEK" ENHANCES ANTI-DRUG AWARENESS

The Department of Defense will showcase its anti-drug awareness and educational activities in American neighborhoods and schools during the 12th annual "Red Ribbon Week" at the Pentagon, Oct. 21-23, 2002. Each year, DoD and the military 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 "Freedom is Drug Free: Plant the Promise."

"Servicemembers are role models for the nation's youth. Anti-drug venues like Red Ribbon Week make a difference for servicemembers and American youth alike," said Andre Hollis, assistant secretary of defense for counternarcotics. "Each child who hears our message and sees our role models and decides, I'm not going to use drugs, that's important. That's an American life that we potentially saved," he 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. 21, at 11 a.m. EDT, Hollis will host the opening ceremony for Red Ribbon Week activities. Miss USA, Shauntay Hinton, will speak on the benefits of leading a drug free life. Hollis will also present the 12th annual Secretary of Defense Community Drug Awareness Awards to five service recipients. Also, Ricochet, the country band, will perform the national anthem and other patriotic songs.

Other events during the week will include appearances by Ken Harvey, former Washington Redskins, Miss Virginia, Julie Laipply and Tony Schumacher, an Army-sponsored top fuel drag racer. All Red Ribbon Week events are open to the media.

For further information, contact Lt. Col. Rivers Johnson, at (703) 697-5131.

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