DEA’s 2019 National Red Ribbon Rally
First Lady Melania Trump joined Acting DEA Administrator Uttam Dhillon on October 7 for DEA’s National Red Ribbon Rally to celebrate the official launch of the 2019 Red Ribbon campaign, dedicated to preserving the memory of DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena – a DEA special agent who was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered in Mexico by drug traffickers. The rally proved to be a historic event as it was the first time in history that a First Lady either visited DEA Headquarters or attended a National Red Ribbon Rally.
Approximately 300 people, including 150 middle and high school students from the metropolitan DC area filled the Headquarters auditorium to capacity for the rally. The rally also was live streamed globally on www.dea.gov, www.getmartaboutdrugs.com, and www.deamuseum.org. Rally attendees included the Young Marines Color Guard; H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program Chamber Singers; Mika Camarena, widow of Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena; invited guests from other federal agencies; DEA’s prevention partners; and DEA employees. Actor Dean Norris, perhaps best known for playing fictional DEA Special Agent Hank Schrader on the AMC series Breaking Bad, was the rally’s master of ceremonies.
As the rally’s guest speaker, Mrs. Trump encouraged the youth in the audience to live drug free.
“Today’s Red Ribbon rally actively engaged our youth and resulted in so many of our children choosing to take the pledge and to live drug free,” said First Lady Melania Trump. “I applaud the tough work that the Drug Enforcement Administration, alongside so many of our agencies, is doing in the fight against drug abuse. Agent Camarena’s story is, unfortunately, all too common and I want to thank Mrs. Camarena and her entire family for choosing to share their story to help drive the changes needed. I hope my visit this morning helps to highlight the importance of Red Ribbon Week in schools and communities nationwide.”
Another highlight at the rally was the announcement of the winners of DEA’s Visual Arts Contest and Community Drug Prevention Awards. Mr. Dhillon and Mrs. Trump participated in the awards ceremony, congratulating each winner and presenting them with their award.
The rally also featured the debut of a Google Earth Tour that highlights Special Agent Camarena’s life. DEA worked with experts at Google Earth to develop an interactive self-guided tour of key places and events in Kiki’s life and the origins of Red Ribbon Week. The Google Earth tour will go live to the public on October 22 at http://g.co/redribbonweek .
The rally featured several youth-led performances, including a spoken word performance by Mikyah Jackson, a student at Old Mill High School and a peer educator with Mentor Foundation USA; a dance performance by three dancers with Polaris Dance Institute; and a musical selection from the H-B Woodlawn Chamber Singers.
The rally concluded with all of the student attendees taking the Red Ribbon pledge to live a drug-free life, led by Acting DEA Administrator Dhillon
“Red Ribbon week is a time to remember those who have given everything in the fight against dangerous drugs,” said Acting Administrator Dhillon. “DEA honors their sacrifice by working with communities and prevention specialists to encourage the next generation to sign the Red Ribbon pledge and live drug-free.”
Preceding this year’s rally was a 30-minute panel discussion that highlighted the importance of Red Ribbon Week and preventing drug abuse. The pre-rally program also featured youth-developed PSAs that focus on preventing opioid misuse and other drug use, submitted under the Operation Prevention Teen Video Challenge and Red Ribbon Week Campus Video PSA Contest, and plaque presentations to individuals and groups who participated in the rally program.
To view a video of the rally, including the pre-rally program, and learn more about DEA’s Red Ribbon efforts, including a toolkit for schools and communities to get involved in Red Ribbon Week, go to www.dea.gov/redribbon.