By Carey Codd

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In a tiny town in Kansas two months ago dozens of people gathered to honor the 3 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teachers and coaches who were murdered earlier this year. Their names will forever be memorialized on a plaque honoring other educators who’ve died in the line of duty.

One of new names etched on a memorial is Chris Hixon, the athletic director atMarjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who died during the shooting. Debbie Hixon, his wife, still cannot believe her husband went to work on February 14th and never returned home.

“Who would believe that that could happen?” she said.

As she and her family cope with the loss of a man defined by his love for them, his students, sports and the military, she is accepting honors and accolades for his devotion to education.

“He looked at all of those kids like he was their father,” she said. “The job of a coach is to teach the kids life lessons, which he took seriously and devoted a lot of his life to that.”

A permanent and moving reminder of Hixon’s dedication to his career came in Emporia, Kansas at the National Memorial to Fallen Educators. They honored Hixon and two other Stoneman Douglas educators — Aaron Feis and Scott Beigel — by recording their names on a large marble memorial displaying the names of other educators who’ve died in the line of duty from various causes.

“This is remarkable but sadly it sickens me to see 130 names in that book,” said Natalie Hixon, Chris’ brother, during a speech at the event.

Natalie said on February 14th her brother did what he always did — tried to help his students. She said he lost his life by attempting to shield them from a hail of gunfire.

“He’s gonna be remembered as a hero,” she said in a video produced from the event. “I just remember him as my big brother.”

Aaron Feis’ brother, Michael Connell, also attended the event. Feis also died attempting to protect the students from the violence.

“I wasn’t surprised in any way, that’s Aaron,” Connell said.

CBS 4 News reported in the days after the shooting that a student told us Scott Beigel also protected his students by ushering them into his classroom and before he could enter the room he was shot dead.

Debbie Hixon could not attend the event in Kansas but she and her son Cory visited the memorial a few weeks ago. They saw Chris’ name etched on the memorial and emotions poured out.

“For me, it was really hard to see his name on that. It makes it real,” she said. “But It was just so amazing that someone would take the time, especially since I’m an educator, and honor them in that way and just show the world that teachers matter.”

Hixon said she is motivated to continue working with the Stand with Parkland group of families to work for sensible gun control, mental health awareness and better school safety. She believes the best legacy for her husband and the other victims would be people from all walks of life joining together and putting aside their political differences to solve this crisis.

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