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Red Ribbons for Drug Awareness

Pink, black, red, white and blue Ribbons have become simple, elegant professions of support and remembrance. We wear pink ribbons for breast cancer, purple ribbons for victims of domestic abuse, and red, white and blue ribbons for patriotism and those who died on Sept. 11 and in the war on terrorism.

The red ribbons worn by areas students this week symbolize another war- the war on drugs. The Red Ribbon campaign began when Enrique Camerana, a former Marine and a D.E.A. agent, was found, tortured and murdered while investigating a Mexican drug cartel. His friends and family began wearing the red ribbons in his memory. Soon, concerned citizens forming coalitions to combat drugs through prevention and awareness adopted Camarena's red ribbon - still in his memory.

Since 1988, when the National Family Partnership organized the first Nationwide Red Ribbon Campaign, the campaign has reached millions of U.S. children.

The Red Ribbon Campaign approaches the drug problem on a grassroots level - at the youngest and most vulnerable victims. The students learn about drugs, about the death and destruction involved in a drug lifestyle. They sign pledge cards stating their intentions to remain drug free.

There is no one true way to combat the drug problem - if there were, it would have been done by now. But a combination of tactics, a unified front, can make a difference. Education and drug awareness are the prime beginning points. The better educated the children are about what harm drugs can cause their bodies, their families and their lives, the less likely they are to experiment. The fewer drug abusers there are, the fewer drug dealers, the fewer robberies to feed their habits, the fewer babies born with addictions. It goes on and on.

We cannot praise the educators involved with this campaign enough. Teaching children these days involves a great deal more than the "Three R's." Lessons in reading, writing and arithmetic only make a child's life better if the child has that life. The Red Ribbon Campaign is one more weapon for the child to carry into the war on drugs.