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President Obama Honors Fallen Sandy Hook Educators With Citizens Medals

NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) -- They were honored for their ultimate sacrifice.

The families of teachers and administrators murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School were at the White House on Friday to meet President Barack Obama and accept medals on behalf of their loved ones.

CBS 2's Lou Young traveled to Newtown for reaction.

A town still reeling from the unthinkable watched a healing moment unfold in the nation's capital. Six Newtown educators received posthumous presidential Citizens Medals for putting themselves between a gunman and students at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The six adults killed were teacher Anne Marie Murphy, teacher Vicki Soto, teacher Lauren Rousseau, behavioral therapist Rachel Davino, Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach.

Obama Honors Fallen Sandy Hook Educators With Citizens Medals

When they showed up for work on Dec. 14 of last year they expected a day like any other. They had no idea evil was about to strike. They gave their lives to protect the precious children in their care.

"It's a high honor. All I can hope is that if I were in the same situation that I would have the courage she had. And that Dawn had and that Natalie had to run out the door and confront what was going on that day," said Bill Sherlach, Mary Sherlach's husband.

Back in Newtown, the honor resonated just as intensely. Wendy Mitchell runs an art project designed to help students recover from the trauma.

"For the president to recognize that, it's a wonderful thing," Mitchell said.

James Belden started a website called "Sandy Hook Promise" ( to help spread a message of sacrifice and understanding.

Following the ceremony, Wayne LaPierre, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, accused the president of politicizing the Sandy Hook tragedy. He renewed his call for armed guards in public schools.

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