If you haven’t been in a school the last week of October for a while, you might not have heard of Red Ribbon Week. It’s been around since 1985. It started as a tribute to a DEA Agent, and now it’s the largest and longest running drug awareness and prevention program in the United States.
Part 1 – Its History: This is Enrique or Kiki Camarena. He was born in Mexico, and his family immigrated to California. Kiki served as a Marine. Later he joined his local police department and did undercover narcotics work for them.
Kiki joined the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) when it opened in 1977, even though his mother told him not to. He said that he was only one person, but he wanted to make a difference. Kiki’s memory still matters, and I’m glad his story hasn’t been forgotten.
Kiki left work on February 7, 1985 to have lunch with his wife. He never made it. He was kidnapped by five men from one of the Mexican drug cartels. They tortured him for his DEA work. His body was found a month later. My heart hurt back then for Kiki and his family. It still does.
His friends and neighbors wanted to remember him. They wanted to join his fight against illegal drugs so they started wearing red ribbons. So did parents across the country. They wanted to stop the drugs and alcohol that hurt their children. They formed groups and took up the fight. They adopted the red ribbon as a symbol of Kiki’s sacrifice, and one by one they showed that one person can make a difference.
The National Family Partnership (NFP) was one of those groups, and they sponsored the first National Red Ribbon Celebration in 1988. They’re doing it again this year. I remember Kiki’s story from the 1980’s. I remember taking part in Red Ribbon Week for most of my teaching career. I don’t remember when my school started, but I’m happy they’re celebrating it again this week.
Part 2 – FAF Called Me: FAF, or Families Against Fentanyl, has been calling me to write about them since the summer, but I never found the right time. This has to be it, and I think Kiki Camarena would agree. He believed that one person could make a difference, and this might be my chance.
All of my illustrations are screenshots from FAF’s website: Families Against Fentanyl. This one caught my eye. Fentanyl is the #1 cause of death for anyone aged 18 to 45. That’s my three kids. All three. I thought they were safe from drugs. Maybe not.
Fentanyl is so sneaky. It’s sent over the Mexican border by the same cartels Kiki fought in 1985. It can be added to other pills, to other drugs. It’s so potent that a rookie policeman died three times in a drug bust, and he only caught its smell. He didn’t swallow. Thank goodness! He lived to tell.
Now those same cartels are disguising fentanyl to look like candy. My best advice with pills/candy is to buy them from the store, even if you have to pay more. Your life is priceless, and you only get one shot. That’s it.
When trick-or-treating this year, go to the houses of people you know. Don’t eat anything until you’re home, and your parents can look it over. This feels like when my kids were growing up, and people were adding razors to Halloween candy. AWFUL! Back then we took our kids to places we knew, and we checked their candy, just to be sure. Some people even took it to the hospital for an x-ray. They wanted to be safe, not sorry.
I absolutely agree with FAF. We can, and we must stop this. One of the best ways you can help is by signing their petition. I thought if I’m going to write this post, I should sign. I’m #41,584. Their goal is 50,000 signatures. You’re welcome to sign up too, but the decision is yours to make.
When I was scanning through FAF’s homepage, I ran across this headline. It’s shocking, that a chemical added to a pill, or something that looks like candy, could be a weapon of mass destruction, but the data is there.
I paraphrased this sentence from FAF so I could wrap my brain around it. This year, either 2021, or so far in 2022, drug overdose deaths reached 100,000, and fentanyl accounted for 64% of those deaths. That means 64,000 people lost their lives because someone snuck fentanyl into their pill. My children are in that age range. It’s frightening . . . so I’m writing about it.
This screenshot and the next one, are from FAF’s button, ‘Take Action.’ There are four bills that are waiting for Congress to vote on. All four deal with fentanyl. After the November election, my guess is that nothing will happen until January, and then new bills will have to be proposed, again.
The next screenshot (below) shows a sentence from each bill. I like H.R. 8030 best – it requires action from the Department of Homeland Security.
H.Res.1172 seems weak. It urges President Biden and the Department to do something. Require sounds stronger. I’m a writer. I love strong verbs!
H.Res.1327 seems weak too. It expresses the sense that the House of Representatives should do something. Expresses? I’m a require kind of writer.
I like H.R.9162 because it directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to do something. I like words that show action. If this is so deadly, I don’t want to urge or express. I want it done! I’d like to think Kiki would agree.
Part 3 – This Year’s Red Ribbon Week Theme:
Celebrate Life – Live Drug Free
My old school always found one way each day to celebrate the theme. Here are ten ways I found to have fun, to celebrate life, drug-free this week, and the rest of the year.
1. Play with toys. 2. Get outside to play. To have fun.
3. Have fun in the water. 4. Find animal friends
5. Find human friends too. 6. Play sports.
7. Spend time with family. 8. Read a book.
9. Listen and play music. 10. Get creative with art.
My Sources – Click and Learn More
Red Ribbon Week - Wikipedia
Kiki Camarena - Wikipedia
2022 Red Ribbon Week Theme | Celebrate Life. Live Drug Free.
Families Against Fentany
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!