The White House recently held the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medals ceremony honoring individuals across the nation whose contributions to the country have stood out.
The award is the second highest honor a civilian can get next to the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The President said, “We host a lot of events at the White House, but I have to admit that this is one of my favorites.” Adding that the honorees do their work because it’s right thing to do.
Giving back to vets
The eighteen recipients included Michael Dorman who is from Fuquay Varina, N.C.
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.
Mr. Dorman was inspired to create Military Missions in Action by the experiences in his life saying, “For me it was a reflection on my life.. After I retired from the Coast Guard I became a contractor and just felt that I needed to be doing more.” Adding that, “Because I was a veteran and I was seeing veterans come back, who needed assistance in their living, that motivated me to do home modifications for veterans with disabilities.”
Military Missions in Action not only works with soldiers returning home from Afghanistan, but with veterans from all branches of service as well as all conflicts. Helping the elderly veterans who fought in World War II and the Korean War by going into the home of the person in need and building a walk in shower, along with a ramp, “So they can live out there life with pride and independence.” Dorman says.
Micheal’s grandfather who was a prisoner of war in Stalag 17 had a stroke at the age of eighty-six and was forced to move into a retirement home afterwards. When Michael would visit his grandfather, “He would always tell me that he felt like he was back in that P.O.W camp because he couldn't go home.” And after that incident Michael said that no one should leave this world with that feeling who has served our country.
Remembering Sandy Hook
Patricia E. Llodra. Who is the first selectman of Newtown, Conn. spoke with reporters before the ceremony. Ms. Llodra said that there are plans for a permanent memorial to be built honoring the victims of the shooting. But the question that concerns her is what will happen to the school building. Ms. Llodra added that, "While we need time to heal, we learn the lessons of Columbine, Virginia Tech and the tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook."
Six other recipients of the medal were the teachers at Sandy Hook who died during the shooting. Rachel Davino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, and Victoria Soto were the people whose lives were honored at the event. With their relatives accepting the medals on their behalf.
When the medals were awarded, one moment that stood out was when Maura Schwartz started to cry as she hugged the President. Schwartz's mother was a psychologist at Sandy Hook elementary and was killed in the shooting.
President Obama paid tribute to the teachers saying, “When they showed up for work at Sandy Hook elementary on December 14th last year they expected a day like any other... they had no idea that evil was about to strike. When it did, they could have taken shelter by themselves for safety, for their own well-being but they didn't, they gave their lives to protect the precious children in their care." The President shed a tear during his remarks about the victims.
After the ceremony the President flew to Chicago, pushing for gun reforms there.