President Barack Obama on Friday praised the selflessness of six teachers and staff killed in the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., as he posthumously awarded each victim a 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal.
When Rachel Davino, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Victoria Soto, Mary Sherlach and Dawn Hochsprung went to work at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, "they expected a day like any other," Obama said during the medal presentation ceremony in the White House East Room. "They had no idea evil was about to strike."
"They gave their lives to protect the precious children in their care," Obama said.
Twenty children, along with the six adults, were killed at the school—one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.
Family members were present on Friday to accept the awards—the nation's second-highest civilian honor—on behalf of their loved ones.
In addition to the Sandy Hook victims, Obama presented the award to Jeanne Manford, co-founder of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG); wounded veteran Adam Burke; disabilities advocate Janice Jackson; Japanese-American volunteer veteran Terry Shima and eight others. The winners were chosen from among 6,000 individuals nominated for the 2012 medal.