WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- President Obama awarded Presidential Citizens Medals Friday to six women who died in the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Conn.
Dawn Hochsprung, Mary Sherlach, Vicki Soto, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel D'Avino and Anne Marie Murphy were honored during a ceremony Friday morning in the East Room of the White House.
"When they showed up for work at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14 of last year, they expected a day like any other -- doing what was right for their kids; spent a chilly morning readying classrooms and welcoming young students -- they had no idea that evil was about to strike," the president said. "And when it did, they could have taken shelter by themselves. They could have focused on their own safety, on their own wellbeing. But they didn't. They gave their lives to protect the precious children in their care. They gave all they had for the most innocent and helpless among us."
The Citizens Medal was established in 1969 to recognize American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.
Twelve other Americans were also honored Friday, including former U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford, who helped found the Peace Corps, and respected pediatrician and child development expert Dr. T. Berry Brazelton.