DEA Celebrates Red Ribbon’s 25th


DEA Celebrates Red Ribbon’s 25th


Administrators Leonhart, Lawn speak at headquarters, contest winners announced

Public Affairs Russ Benson raise the Red Ribbon Flag at headquarters

Public Affairs Russ Benson raise the Red Ribbon Flag at headquarters

Over the past year, more than 800 red ribbon events took place across the nation, from Guam to Maine and all the states and territories in between. This week at DEA headquarters, after being delayed by the government shutdown,  Administrator Michele Leonhart and former Administrator Jack Lawn joined hundreds of DEA employees in marking this, the 25th anniversary of the Congressional resolution that established Red Ribbon Week by remembering what the red ribbon stands for and recommitting ourselves to the cause.

Administrator Leonhart reflected on the purpose of red ribbon: to do all we can to stop the cycle of pain, violence, and death before it starts by encouraging young Americans to take the red ribbon pledge to live their lives drug free. She also talked about the sacrifices we in drug law enforcement make to help children and young adults keep that pledge, particularly by those who paid with their lives. The death of Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was the catalyst behind the creation of the red ribbon movement, under the leadership of Administrator Lawn. This movement continues in his name today, as does the fight for justice for Kiki as we seek to bring the mastermind behind his murder back to justice after being released from prison in Mexico this summer.

Chief of Congressional and Public Affairs, Russ Benson presents Administrator Lawn with Red Sox jersey signed by Carl Yastrzemski. Lawn after leaving DEA was Vice President of the New York Yankees.”

Chief of Congressional and Public Affairs, Russ Benson presents Administrator Lawn with Red Sox jersey signed by Carl Yastrzemski. Lawn after leaving DEA was Vice President of the New York Yankees.”

Administrator Lawn spoke about how each time he comes to DEA headquarters he feels like he is “returning to family,” and that whenever he sees someone wearing the red ribbon he sees it as “a tribute to Kiki Camarena, to DEA, and all of our partners fighting drugs.” He recalled details of the murder and the investigation, which accomplished three things. First, the investigation and trials brought a sense of justice to Kiki’s memory and to his family. Second, “for the first time the people of the world saw the soul of DEA,” and our commitment to one another. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, “it brought the people of DEA together, and through this tragedy we made ourselves into a family.”

Administrator Lawn also spoke about how the red ribbon was chosen as a symbol of both the sacrifices made by and of the mission of drug law enforcement. The DEA red ribbon was inspired by the book The Red Badge of Courage: the blood spilled by the courageous in the fight against drugs; from the red planet Mars, named for the god of war; and the use of the ribbon as a symbol for the movement comes from the idea that a ribbon can bind us together. In the case of the red ribbon, it binds those who wear it together to honor Kiki’s memory, to seeking out justice, and to living a drug free life.

Students from CityDance preform at DEA's Red Ribbon headquarters event. CityDance is funded in part through the DEA Youth Dance Program.

Students from CityDance preform at DEA’s Red Ribbon headquarters event. CityDance is funded in part through the DEA Youth Dance Program.

In addition to hearing from the Administrators, the audience saw the national red ribbon video; heard from a vocalist and pianist from George Mason University; saw a beautiful ballet dance from City Dance students, and then a dance performance to the music of Katy Perry’s song “You’re Going to Hear Me Roar” by Drew Model Elementary School students. Both of these groups are part of the DEA Youth Dance Program which is sponsored by the DEA Educational Foundation in more than 15 cities around the United States.

Finally, the DEA Red Ribbon Bookmark Contest winners were announced. At the elementary school level the winner was, Jordan Rothermund, the daughter of Special Agent Mike Rothermund, and at the middle school level Alexis Pugh, the daughter of Tammie Pugh of DEA’s Human Resources Division was chosen. Each received awards for their outstanding designs.

Administrator Leonhart with bookmark award winner Jordan Rothermund and her father, Special Agent Mike Rothermund

Administrator Leonhart with bookmark award winner Jordan Rothermund and her father, Special Agent Mike Rothermund

Administrator Leonhart with bookmark contest winner Alexis Pugh, daughter of Tammie Pugh.

Administrator Leonhart with bookmark contest winner Alexis Pugh, daughter of Tammie Pugh.

The DEA Demand Reduction Section, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, organized the Red Ribbon Rally.  For more information or to obtain resources on Red Ribbon, contact the Demand Reduction Section at 202-307-7936 or by visiting their website.

Bookmark of Jordan Rothermund

Bookmark of Jordan Rothermund

Bookmark of Alexis Pugh

Bookmark of Alexis Pugh

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