President Barack Obama has honored the six educators killed in the Newtown school shooting with the nation's second-highest civilian honor.
The six were posthumously awarded the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal on Friday during a White House ceremony.
Rachel Davino's mother Mary and sister Sarah accepted on her behalf
Dawn Hochsprung's mother and daugther Erica and Cheryl Lafferty accepted the honor from the President
Anne Marie Murphy's husband Michael and daughters Paige and Colleen
Lauren Rousseau's parents Gillis and Terri accepted the medal
Mary Sherlach's husband Bill and daughters Katy Sherlach and Maura Lynn Schwartz
Victoria Soto's parents Donna and Carols Sr accepting on her behalf
In opening remarks, President Obama said when the six showed up for work that morning, they were expecting a day like any other. He went on to say that they had no idea evil was about to strike. When it did, Obama said they could have focused on their own safety, but they didn't. They gave their lives protecting the precious children in their care.
A military aide read the commendation for the teachers.
The Presidential Citizens Medal is presented to Rachel Davino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach and Victoria Soto for dedicating themselves to their students and to the community of Newtown, Connecticut. Some had been at Sandy Hook Elementary School for only weeks. Others were preparing to retire after decades of service. All worked long past the school bell to give the children in their care a future worth their talents.
On December 14, 2012 unthinkable tragedy swept through Newtown, etching the names of these six courageous women into the heart of our nation forever.
The United States honors Rachel Davino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach and Victoria Soto for their extraordinary committment to the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School.
In closing remarks, Obama said the teachers and administrators gave all they had for the most innocent and helpless among us and that's what is being honored. He said it was their courageous hearts, selfless spirit and inspiring actions of extraordinary citizens.
Four Newtown school representatives were on hand for the event.
Newtown High School teacher Tom Kuroski, who also serves as President of the Newtown Federation of Teachers, was at the White House for the ceremony. He said that although it was difficult, it was good to see the togetherness. He added that they will always be together.
"Newtown has lost family members, but we haven't lost our family."
Kuroski says he was pleased the educators who gave their lives were recognized for their bravery and heroism in unspeakable circumstances. He hopes what happened in Newtown brings light to lawmakers so they can make sure it never happens again.
Sandy Hook Elementary School Secretary Joanne Didonato, who prepared Chalk Hill Middle School for the Sandy Hook students, was also at the ceremony. She was joined by custodian Rick Thorne who is credited with locking open doors and making sure hallways were clear that day. Teacher Kris Feda, who was in the main office that December morning and moved students out of the building to the firehouse, attended the ceremony.
First Selectman Pat Llodra and Superintendent of Schools Dr Janet Robinson were also there.