There are no words to explain the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. When Adam Lanza took the lives of 20 young children and six heroic teachers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, he also struck a blow to the heart of our nation. December 14, 2012 will always be remembered as one of the darkest days in a deeply troubled era. But now, out of despair comes a bright ray of hope and remembrance. Grateful citizens have launched a petition on the White House Website that asks President Obama to award the Presidential Medal Of Freedom to the six brave teachers who gave their lives to protect their students.
The Presidential Medal Of Freedom is awarded at the discretion of the President of the United States. The medal is the highest civilian award conferred by the American government, and it is the equivalent of the Congressional Medal Of Honor bestowed on America’s bravest military heroes. The Medal Of Freedom is presented to individuals who make “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Many fine people from all walks of life have received the Medal Of Freedom, including such notables as musician Bob Dylan, Boston Celtics center Bill Russel, author Maya Angelou, and Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Now there are six more names that need to join the Roll of Honor: Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, School Staff Psychologist Mary Sherlach, Behavioral Therapist Rachel D’Avino, Special Education Teacher Anne Marie Murphy, Teacher Lauren Rousseau, and Teacher Victoria Soto.
Every single one of these devoted educators gave their lives to protect the children from harm. Lauren Rousseau was found in her empty classroom after she hid her students.. Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung was the first to die as she confronted the gunman. It is believed she turned on the schools public address system before she died. The shots rang out over the Hallway and classroom speakers, warning the school and saving many lives. Mary Sherlach was there with Principal Hochsprung and gave her life trying to help her friend stop the gunman.
Lauren Rousseau, who was found huddled over the bodies of her students, fulfilled her lifelong dream and became a full time teacher at Sandy Hook. She was a joyous young woman who always bubbled with enthusiasm. She described her time at the Newtown, Connecticut school as the best year of her life.
Lauren’s dad, Gilles Rousseau, spoke of about his daughter’s love for the children:
“She was like a kid in many ways. That’s why she liked working with kids so much. She died with her little kids.”
“I’m used to having people die who are older, not the person whose room is up over the kitchen.”
Anne Marie Murphy was the school’s Special Education Teacher. She dedicated her teaching career to working with special needs children, and she excelled at her chosen vocation. Anne Marie was found with her arms still wrapped around one of her beloved students, Dylan Hockley, who died in her embrace.
Dylan’s parents broke their silence to tell the world about the sacrifice of Anne Marie Murphy:
“We take great comfort in knowing that Dylan was not alone when he died.”
Behavioral Therapist Rachel D’Avino had only recently joined the faculty at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. According to the police on the scene, Raquel died while shielding her students from the bullets of a madman. Raquel never lived to receive the surprise her boyfriend had planned for Christmas. He was going to ask Rachael to marry him on Christmas Eve.
If you would like to sign the petition to award the Presidential Medal Of Freedom to these six deserving American heroes, you may go to the official White House Website. There is also a separate petition on the White House website to award the Medal Of Freedom to Vicki Soto.
Americans are about to celebrate Christmas. At this time of year, we spend time with love ones and we look forward to a joyous New Year. This year will be different. Our Christmas holiday will be touched with sorrow at the loss of 26 precious human beings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and the murder of Nancy Lanza, shot in her own bed by her son.
There is only one gift I would like to receive this Christmas and that is to turn on my computer bright and early on Christmas Day and read that President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rachel D’Avino, Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, and Victoria Soto. May you all find peace and comfort in your hearts and may the New Year bring healing to our nation and the world.