The six women killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School by a gunman who also murdered 20 children were honored with posthumous Presidential Citizens Medals today at the White House.
President Obama, whose eyes appeared to tear up during during the ceremony, said the educators "gave their lives to protect the precious children in their care; they gave all they had for the most innocent and helpless among us."
Dawn Hochsprung, Mary Sherlach, Vicki Soto, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel D'Avino, and Anne Marie Murphy were among 18 people awarded the medals today. Family members accepted the awards on the educators' behalf.
The others honored today:
-- Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, "one of America's most respected voices on child development."
-- Adam Burke, an Iraq War veteran who suffered traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder and then went on to create "Veterans Farm, a space for wounded warriors to heal by working the land and finding stability on friendly soil."
-- Mary Jo Copeland, the driving force behind Minneapolis' Sharing and Caring Hands charity.
-- Michael Dorman, "a 20-year veteran of the Coast Guard [who] founded Military Missions in Action to help veterans with disabilities live independently."
-- Maria Gomez, who has "dedicated her life to providing high-quality health care to the community [Washington, D.C.] that raised her."
-- Pamela Green-Jackson, who created "Youth Becoming Healthy [and] equipped young men and women in Georgia schools with the knowledge and opportunity they need to get a strong start in life."
-- Patience A. Lehrman, a "-generation immigrant from Cameroon" whose Project SHINE "has helped thousands of aging immigrants and refugees build deeper ties to their communities by connecting them with college students nationwide."
-- Janice Yvette Jackson, "counselor and the founder of Women Embracing Abilities Now [who] has drawn from the depth of her experience to empower women with disabilities and advocate passionately on their behalf."
-- The late Jeanne Manford, who founded Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and insisted "that equality knows no bounds of sexual orientation or gender identity."
-- Billy Mills, the 1964 Olympics champion n the 10,000-meters run who went on to create Running Strong for American Indian Youth.
-- Terry Shima, who served in World War II with the Army's 442nd Regimental Combat Team and later was executive director of the Japanese American Veterans Association.
-- Harris Wofford, former Pennsylvania senator, longtime civil rights activist, adviser to President Kennedy and a key force in the creation of the Peace Corps.
As The Hill says, "the Citizens Medal, which was established in 1969, recognizes American citizens who perform exemplary deeds of service for the country and fellow citizens."
Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.