House and Senate leaders on Tuesday awarded a Congressional Gold Medal to Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Denise McNair. The four girls were killed on Sept. 15, 1963, by a bomb planted by a white supremacist outside of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
The medal is Congress' highest civilian honor. Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell, the first African-American woman from her state to be elected to Congress, spearheaded the effort to posthumously honor the girls, who were each 14 at the time, except McNair, who was 11.
"Although we will never be able to replace the lives lost or the injuries suffered, this will serve as a compelling reminder that the price of freedom is not free. Today reminded us that in recommitting ourselves to the cause of justice and equality we will be fulfilling the tremendous legacy left by the four girls," Sewell said.
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(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)