NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – An organization composed of Medal of Honor recipients traveled to Newtown on Monday to honor the six educators killed in the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society said it chose behavioral therapist Rachel D’Avino, principal Dawn Hochsprung, teacher Anne Marie Murphy, teacher Lauren Rousseau, school psychologist Mary Sherlach and teacher Victoria Soto to receive its Citizen Honors Medal, the highest award it gives to a civilian, after receiving dozens of nominations for their actions during the shooting.
The women exemplified courage, sacrifice and selflessness in trying to protect students from gunman Adam Lanza, the society said in announcing the honor.
“They paid the ultimate price and, in doing so, these amazing and courageous individuals taught us, a grateful nation, the definition of bravery and selflessness,” combat veteran and past recipient of the honor Thomas Kelly said at the ceremony. “They immediately sprang to action in defense of those in their care and gave their last measure of devotion in protecting their students.”
“Not combat trained, they were elementary educators,” Newtown School Superintendent Dr. Janet Robinson said . “But their overwhelming thoughts and actions were to protect the children,” Robinson said.
The organization also honored every other member of the school’s staff with a Certificate of Commendation.
“Many teachers and staff members disregarded their own safety that day to hide and protect the children in their care,” said Harold Fritz, the society’s president.
The families of teachers and administrators murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School were at the White House in February to meet President Barack Obama and accept medals on behalf of their loved ones.
The society honored four other people with the award this year. They received their medals during an annual ceremony on March 25 at Arlington National Cemetery.
The society decided to honor the Sandy Hook heroes separately and arranged to present the awards to family members at Monday’s ceremony inside Newtown High School.
The Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook left the six educators and 20 first graders dead.
Lanza killed him mother before driving to the school to carry out the rampage. He fatally shot himself as police closed in.
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