PRESIDENT Barack Obama yesterday awarded presidential medals posthumously to six staff killed in the Newtown school massacre, saying they gave their lives to protect “the most innocent and helpless among us”.
Mr Obama bestowed the honour, which recognises citizens who have performed “exemplary deeds” of service, on four teachers and two administrators killed in the December shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, a tragedy that sparked nationwide calls for tighter gun control laws.
He said: “They could have taken shelter by themselves, they could have focused on their own safety, on their own well-being, but they didn’t.
“They gave their lives to protect the precious children in their care and gave all they had for the most innocent and helpless among us.”
Mr Obama, who has called the day of the mass shooting the worst of his presidency, is moving swiftly to try to build momentum for gun control legislation. But he faces an uphill battle against a powerful pro-gun lobby and a strong US tradition of hunting and gun ownership.