Obama to honor Sandy Hook teachers and staff posthumously
February 8th, 2013
05:49 PM ET

Obama to honor Sandy Hook teachers and staff posthumously

Washington (CNN) - President Obama will honor the six teachers and staff killed in the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre last December with the second highest civilian honor, the Citizens Medal in a ceremony next Friday at the White House.

In announcing the honor, the White House said, "the names of six courageous women were forever etched into the heart of our Nation as unthinkable tragedy swept through Newtown, Connecticut."

Principal Dawn Hochsprung, school psychologist Mary Sherlach and teachers Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel Davino, and Victoria Soto and twenty children were killed when a gunman opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.

The Citizens Medal recognizes Americans who have performed "exemplary deeds of service for their country or fellow citizens."

Calling the six women from the Newtown tragedy "dedicated" to their students and their community the White House noted how they often put in long hours "to give the children in their care a future worthy of their talents."

As many as 6,000 individuals were nominated for the Citizens Medal for 2012.

Twelve other individuals will also be honored with the Citizens Medal which was established more than 40 years ago.

Here is the complete list of awardees announced by the White House:

Dr. T. Berry Brazelton (Boston, Massachusetts)
Brazelton is one of the foremost authorities on pediatrics and child development as well as an author and professor. One of Brazelton’s best known achievements was the development of the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS), which is now used worldwide to recognize the physical and neurological responses of newborns, as well as emotional well-being and individual differences. In 1993, he founded the Brazelton Touchpoints Center® (BTC) at Boston Children’s Hospital where he continues to promote strengths-based, family-centered care in pediatric and early education settings around the world.

Adam Burke (Jacksonville, Florida)
Burke is an Iraq combat veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart which he received for injuries occurred by a mortar attack while running combat operation in Iraq. In 2009 he opened "Veterans Farm," a 19 acre handicap-accessible farm that helps teach veterans of all ages how to make a living from the find healing in the land. He has been awarded numerous accolades for his work, including the 2011 Good Person of the Year award from the Good People Foundation and the Star of Honor from Work Vessels for Veterans.

Mary Jo Copeland (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Copeland founded Sharing and Caring Hands in 1985, which has served as a safety net to those in the Minneapolis area through the provision of food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical and dental assistance. Sharing and Caring Hands assists thousands of people a month, and is staffed almost entirely by volunteers. Copeland, who currently receives no salary for her work, has served as its director since its opening and still greets every client entering the center and conducts intake interviews.

Michael Dorman (Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina)
Dorman is the founder and executive director of Military Missions in Action, a North Carolina-based non-profit that helps veterans with disabilities, both physical and mental, achieve independent living. All veterans who have served are eligible to receive services including home modification, rehabilitation and family assistance. Since 2008, the organization has completed more than 100 home modification projects and shipped thousands of care packages to soldiers.

Maria Gomez (Washington, DC)
Gomez founded Mary’s Center 25 years ago with the mission to build better futures through the delivery of health care, family literacy and job training. Mary’s Center is part of the working group launching First Lady Michelle Obama's “Let's Read Let's Move Campaign.” Prior to establishing Mary’s Center, Maria was a public health nurse with the D.C. Department of Health. She has also worked for the Red Cross, directing community education programming and disaster services, and with the Visiting Nurses Association. She currently serves as Regional Representative for the South East to the National Council of la Raza, and previously served two terms on the board of the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington.

Pamela Green Jackson (Albany, Georgia)
Green Jackson is the Founder and CEO of the Youth Becoming Healthy Project (YBH), a non-profit organization committed to reducing the epidemic of childhood obesity through nutrition, fitness education and physical activity programs. YBH was created in memory of Pamela Green Jackson's only brother, Bernard Green, who died in 2004 from obesity-related illnesses. YBH provides resources for during and after school wellness programs for elementary and middle school students as well as a summer wellness camp where the students learn about exercise, nutrition and can participate in martial arts, walking club and dance programs.

Janice Jackson (Baltimore, Maryland)
Jackson is the creator and program director of Women Embracing Abilities Now, (W.E.A.N.) a nonprofit mentoring organization servicing women and young ladies with varying degrees of disabilities. She is also a professor at The University of Baltimore. Jackson has actively advocated on behalf of people with disabilities and currently serves on the board of directors for The League for People with Disabilities, the Hoffberger Center for Professional Ethics at the University of Baltimore, and The Image Center of Maryland. She also serves on the Community Advisory Council at the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities at Kennedy Krieger Institute, and is a counselor at Kernan Rehabilitation Center. She has also founded two support groups, We Are Able People (W.R.A.P.) and Women On Wheels & Walking (W.O.W.W.).

Patience Lehrman (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Lehrman is an immigrant from Cameroon and the National Director of Project SHINE (Students Helping in the Naturalization of Elders), an immigrant integration initiative at the Intergenerational Center of Temple University. SHINE partners with 18 institutions of higher learning, community-based organizations, and county and city governments across the country. SHINE engages college students and older adults to provide language and health education, citizenship and civic participation lessons to immigrant communities. Lehrman also mentors inner-city high school students, provides free meals to low-income children in the summer and serves as an election official. She holds three Masters Degrees from Temple University.

Jeanne Manford (Queens, NY)
Manford and her husband, Jules, co-founded in 1972 a support group for parents of gay children that grew into the national organization known as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Manford had always supported her son Morty, but was inspired to act after the police failed to intervene while Morty was beaten and hospitalized during a Gay Activists Alliance demonstration in April 1972. In the years that followed, Manford continued to march and organize, even after losing Morty to AIDS in 1992. Today, PFLAG focuses on creating a network of support and advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Manford passed away in early January at the age of 92.

Billy Mills (Fair Oaks, California)
Mills co-founded and serves as the spokesman for Running Strong for American Indian Youth, an organization that supports cultural programs and provides health and housing assistance for Native American communities. Mills gained prominence during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, when he unexpectedly won a Gold Medal in the 10,000 meter run. Today, he remains the only American to ever win this event. At the time Mills competed in the Olympics, he was a First Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. After the Olympics, Mills, an Oglala Lakota, was made a warrior by his tribe. In 1986, Mills and Eugene Krizek, president of Christian Relief Services, joined forces to found Running Strong.

Terry Shima (Gaithersburg, Maryland)
Shima was drafted into the US Army on October 12, 1944 as a replacement for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. This unit was composed of Japanese Americans who volunteered for combat duty. In November 2011, the US Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal collectively to the 442nd RCT, the 100th Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service. Shima served as Executive Director of the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA), a nonprofit organization that publicizes and assists Japanese American military veterans and their families, from 2004 to 2012 and is now chair of its Outreach and Education Committee.

Harris Wofford (Washington D.C.)
Wofford served as a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania from 1991 to 1995, and from then to 2001 was the chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service. From 1970 to 1978 he served as the fifth president of Bryn Mawr College. He is a noted advocate of national service and volunteering. He began his public service career as counsel to the Rev.Theodore Hesburgh on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and was an early supporter of the Civil Rights movement in the South in the late 1950s. He became a volunteer advisor and friend of Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1961, Kennedy appointed him as special assistant to the President for civil rights. He was instrumental in the formation of the Peace Corps and served as the Peace Corps' special representative to Africa and director of operations in Ethiopia. On his return to Washington in 1964, he was appointed associate director of the Peace Corps. In 1966 he became the founding president of the State University of New York's College at Old Westbury.

soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. jerry

    oh, another opportunity to advance his agenda... always it's about obama...always!

    February 8, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • jean2009

      Actually it appears to be about the teachers and student of Sandy Hook...since they are the recipinets of the awards. Of course, we understand you are in such a white-sheet world of hate that you can't see anything else.

      February 8, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
      • Moose

        Of course its a photo op for the inept one, but nice try with your racist comments, its clear you were born to follow, just like your idol the bamman

        February 9, 2013 at 10:53 am |
      • jean2009

        Gee! Since I wasn't making a comment to you...it looks like you are one of those followers.

        February 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
      • jerry

        oh jean...make this a race thing eh? When you can no longer defend this failed and miserable presidency...if you can call it that.

        February 12, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • livingston1

      If you don't think they should be honored.....well, that says more about you then it does him. What a sad angry little person you are.

      February 12, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • jerry

      obama is not a true American in his heart...and he has proven it. So, there is your answer, that is if you can understand it.

      February 12, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
  2. Kathy

    What about those murdered in Benghazi when he didn't even call to find out if Ambassador Stephens made it out alive!!! When will he honor them by telling the truth? Hillary and Obama are not worthy! I have lost all respect for both of them.

    February 8, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • jerry

      the Syrians who are being slaughtered, the Iranians Green Revolution obama would not support, the killing of the Libyan leader, and it goes on and on and on.

      February 12, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
  3. T

    .....It makes me .SICK.....to see all these GUN NUTZ screaming that Sandy Hill was a fake. I wish these Ttard Gun NUTZ all GTH.....and see the killer there.

    February 9, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • Frank Marshall Davis

      There have been some heated debates here about what to do to prevent it from happening again but as far as I know none of the regular posters has said it was faked. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

      February 9, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
      • jean2009

        There have been several members of the conspiracy theory tinfoil hat group that post that nonsense.

        February 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
      • December 2012

        Jean and Frank are both right. While there are those who claim it was faked, nobody has made those claims here. At least, none that I can recall or would wish to.

        February 10, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  4. Wayne

    These teachers at Sandy Hook were great folk, but really just typical of every teacher/staff in every Elementary School in the country. They happened to be in a terrible place at a terrible time. But they are not heroes. They are victims. To put them in the same category as follks who have voluntarily stepped forward and done incredibly courageous thing is to diminish the word "hero". "Exemplary deeds of service for their country"...is the definition of the award. These were ordinary folks in ordinary jobs who were shot by a maniac.

    February 9, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • jean2009

      So hearing gun shots down a hall and running toward it is not heroic, and sheilding students with your own body so they can escape is not heroic? Your view point on heroism seems very foolish.

      February 11, 2013 at 11:45 am |
      • Oakspar77777

        Yes, the teachers were heroes.

        The cowards were those in government who are so afraid of guns and afraid of irresponsible teachers that they strip them of the 2nd Amendment rights at the door.

        Those heroic teachers showed what fools those politicians were who did not trust in them.

        It seems unlikely that any of them would have been carrying that day, but even the possibility that they MIGHT be would make the school a less attractive target. If they were carrying, it does not mean they would have stopped the madman or stopped him in time to save any lives, but their inability to carry does assure that they could not stop him.

        What I find disgraceful is the continual use of the victims of a madman being used to push an agenda that would not have protected them that day. Even if such laws would have taken one of the four firearms out of the madman's possession (which is unlikely, even if they were passed), the tragedy would have been identical.

        February 13, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • steveo


      I'm gonna have to agree with Jean on this one. There was a 27 year old teacher who shielded her students with her own body, that action cost her life. If she did that on a battlefield, where we expect bullets to fly, she would be getting a medal. Instead it happened in a school, were NO ONE expects bullets to fly! The definition of hero is based upon action, not location! There were heros at that school.

      February 11, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Caramon

      Sorry Wayne, I also agree with Jean. Teachers are taught to teach not defend. The teacher who voluntarily put self in harms way to protect students is most heroic. The same is true for the bus driver who tried to protect the students from that crazy kidnapper.

      February 11, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • gpower88

      It is all about Service to the nation no matter the environment peace or hostle, these teachers were at work training and molding our children.

      February 11, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • John

      I'm with Jean on this one also. Some of these people put themselves in harms way to protect others.

      February 12, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  5. mario

    why cant obama ever do something with out getting shit
    for it he is a good man just admit it would you

    February 10, 2013 at 12:53 am |
    • John

      When credit is due he does. But, much of the time, he is in the middle of situations where situations need to be looked at with a critical eye. Do you understand this or are you one of those blind followers who just try to sweep anything under the rug that makes him look bad? Every TV station except 1 doing exactly what you are saying. Obama can do no wrong in their eyes. It seems to me people like you and me should be much more concerned with the press giving Obama a free pass. .

      February 11, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • jean2009

      mario The problem is John is blind in his critical eye ...all it sees is criticism Mainly because it was blinded from lack of use during the Bush administration. .

      February 11, 2013 at 11:47 am |
      • John

        Jean, coming from you this is comical. You have never taken a critical look at what Obama does or the policy he puts forth. And, as I have told you many, many times – I did not vote for Bush, not even once.
        I take it you are not concerned with the news media not taking a critical look at anything Obama does?

        February 11, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
      • jean2009

        No John it is not comical...it is just plain pitiful that you can't see yourself. Up to now those with the most critical/biased eye can mainly be found on Fox and with the likes of you on this comment log. I can honestly say when CNN's coverage and comments are critical they are normally very fair criticism.....fair criticism is fine....but yours is just plain critical belly-aching for the sake of being biased and critical ....the fact is your blind eye lacks that credible act of fairness.

        I can in all accuracy state I have never seen you give credit where credit is due. If you can cut and paste one place where you have feel you have free to do so.

        February 11, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
      • Caramon

        Well Jean, in some respects I see where John is coming from. I have openly criticized the GOP, my own party and even praised the President and his handling of Sandy. Yet, I have never seen you say anything remotely positive about any Republican or criticize the President. I feel it is not only a right but a responsibility to criticize my party when I feel they are not performing in our best interest.

        "fair criticism is fine"

        February 11, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
      • John

        Nice post Caramon, well said.
        Jean, call me anything you want, I simply want a government for ALL people, including working stiffs like me. It is comical, you call me bias, but you constantly bash only repubs. Because you think CNN is "fair" we are all supposed to think that? I can name maybe 3 people who are regulars on Fox who vote Dem. Can you name one regular on CNN who may vote Repub? How about the fact that NBC has been caught twice recently editing videos to make the story sound like something it wasn't? I assume you are ok with stuff like this as long as it supports what you think?
        I understand you hate Fox, but you never give examples of why. Maybe you could share? Fox is #1 for several resons. One major reason is because conservatives really only have one news station that leans right – Fox. Dems have the rest (MSDNC, NBC, CBS, HBO, and on and on and on). That should be a concern for any American. But, instead libs want to get rid of Fox because they disagree with their views.

        February 12, 2013 at 7:25 am |
      • jean2009

        No John you don't want a world for all...only for the ultra-right wing people who agree with you.

        Name three people who appear with regularity, provide commentary or articles for CNN who are members of the GOP, or profess to be members of the GOP.
        Alex Castellanos
        Amy Holmes
        Will Cain
        David Gergen
        Mary Matalin
        Bill Bennett
        That is 6 to name a few...and 3 more than you requested...and I would bet there are several others who don't state their views, but many times you can tell.

        Why, if the discussion was about CNN's unfairness did you need to resort to bringing up NBC? Where did they come into the conversation? Or, did you not have anything really valid about CNN being unfair? Plus, how do you know how any commentator actually votes? Do you go in the voting booth with all of them?

        Fact is: I can't stand: Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Stossel they absolutely never hide their bias, Fox network is basically the mouthpiece for the radical right-wing of the GOP. It is the least balanced network on the air, since it is not talking truth, and is basically "tell another big one" entertainment. Reasonable people are not trying to get rid of it, just trying to educate those who think it is truth. I assume you are okay with that as long as it tells you what to think and what you want to hear?

        BTW...I still don't see where you have provided a copy/paste showing credit where credit was due. Oh before I hit post...why aren't you commenting on the FOX site? Oh right, they don't allow people to disagree with their brainwashing tactics.

        Caramon feel free to copy paste also!

        February 12, 2013 at 9:33 am |
      • Caramon

        You do not need to look to far Jean. Just look right above your latest post...
        "praised the President and his handling of Sandy"
        Something I said many times.

        "since it is not talking truth,"

        Jean you never have provided any evidence that Fox news is not truth, none whatsoever. It is all based on your opinion, an opinion you claim to be unbiased. What one chooses to believe is the only truth. What you are basically saying is that media that disagrees with your opinion is all lies.

        February 12, 2013 at 10:21 am |
      • Caramon

        Your turn Jean. Cut and paste anytime you had something positive to say about any member of the GOP.

        Good luck.

        February 12, 2013 at 10:47 am |
      • John

        Jean, all the lib news is the same and I post here because I want to. I like to see different points of view. The posts on Fox are what they are and they are not for me (as much as you want to make it look like I am a repub). I watch all "news". Depending on the story (Obamacare, Sandra Fluke, the person who could have been "Obama's son", Occupy people, raise taxes, and on and on and on (like there isn't much difference between Wolf (CNN) and Matthews (MSDNC), or Crowley (CNN) and Schultz (MSDNC). It is easy for you to say "I do not like" certain people who are on the air because their views are different than mine". I am ok with that. You think they are bias. I think they are just telling it like it is. And, I know for sure Matthews, Maddow Pierce and many others are very bias, but for some reason you are ok with that?
        I am sure you hate when Fox does a story on things like "Obama Phones" and it's 2.8 billion dollar price tag. I like these types of stories that provide us with detail. And it prompts people like me to read about what is really going on.
        Now, let's address what you wrote. Do you think Limbaugh is on Fox? How about Beck? You know what happened to Beck right? He was forced off of the air by libs because they did not agree with him. Very "inclusive" of you libs.
        I have seen Obama, Charlie Wrangel, and many, many more providing their views on Fox. BTW, I am not big on O'Riley or Hannity either. I like Stossel – he is a true Lib(ertarian). Beck and Limbaugh are not on Fox.

        February 12, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
      • jerry

        it is you jean who is blind... if not for the leftist press obama would never have been voted in the first place. This man (if you can call him a man) has no skill set for leadership...none, and it is showing. A least carter had been a governor, and he was a disaster too...but obama? A joke, a horrible joke.

        February 13, 2013 at 10:24 am |
  6. CNN Loud Mouth

    Had the Lanza's automatically been required by law to take legal "Custodianship" of their mentally ill child, Adam Lanza, when he turned 18, Sandy Hook would have never happened. Parents of the mentally ill must be assigned legal "Custodianship" of their mentally ill children when they turn 18, to ensure that they continue to receive the treatment they need to control their mental illness. Releasing untreated, unmonitored mentally ill adults into the world, just because they turn 18, is sick. Parenting is a life long commitment, parents must be parents as long as they shall live, especially when your children are mentally ill. If parents won't take responsibility and Custodianship of their mentally ill children, who will?

    February 12, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • jerry

      very true...but then that would solve a problem that otherwise is used to make political hay(gun control)...as obama has done his entire life. It is this left wing foolishness that has made Chicago the murder capital of the world and now we have THAT leadership controlling the democratic party...hard line marxists with no conscience.

      February 12, 2013 at 8:35 pm |