Building his case for gun control, President Obama presented the Presidential Citizens Medal posthumously Friday to the six educators slain in the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting.
When the teachers and administrators showed up for work at the school on Dec. 14, Mr. Obama said, "they had no idea that evil was about to strike."
"They gave their lives to protect the precious children in their care," the president said in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
The school employees were Rachel Davino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach and Victoria Soto, all of whom were slain along with 20 students by a lone gunman in Newtown, Conn. The shooting spurred the push by the administration for new gun-control measures, including a ban on assault weapons and universal background checks for gun purchases.
The families of the educators attended the East Room ceremony and accepted the awards.
Later on Friday, Mr. Obama is traveling to Chicago to give a speech on the need for gun-control measures.
Mr. Obama awarded the nation's second-highest civilian honor to 12 other recipients, including Dr. T. Berry Brazelton of Boston, an authority on pediatrics and child development; former Sen. Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania, an early supporter of the civil rights movement; and Adam Burke of Jacksonville, Fla., an Iraq war veteran who founded a handicap-accessible farm to teach wounded veterans how to make a living from farming.
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