It was an emotional embrace and an exchange of whispers between Libby Little and President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday.
"I said, 'thank you' and I think he said back to me it was his honor," said Libby Little.
President Obama honored Mrs. Little with the Presidential Medal of Freedom because of the humanitarian work that she and her late husband, Dr. Tom Little, did half a world away.
"We love our country and we never imagined that working in obscurity in Afghanistan would receive this level of recognition," said Libby Little.
The recognition came after Dr. Little's life came to a violent end last summer when he and nine other aid workers were ambushed and murdered in Afghanistan. Ironically, that horror drew attention to the work that the Littles had been doing in that country for decades.
For 30 years, the Delmar optometrist and his wife provided free medical care to the people of Afghanistan.
Of the 15 Medal of Freedom recipients being honored in the East Room of the White House, Tom Little was the only one being honored posthumously.
Tuesday's other honorees include former President George H.W. Bush, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and basketball legend and activist Bill Russell.
Mrs. Little sat between civil rights leader and Georgia Congressman John Lewis and Yo-Yo Ma.
"Yo-Yo Ma is such a gentleman - such a gracious man!" said Mrs. Little.
They are unlikely company for an Upstate New York optometrist who avoided the spotlight.
While the Littles still don't know who nominated Dr. Tom Little for the Medal of Freedom, they know he would have been privileged.
"He would be honored in a very shy, humble way," said Fred Little.
"We certainly didn't set out for awards or this kind of thing and still aren't so it's taken us by surprise. And I know Tom would feel great honor, receiving this award from the President of the United States," said Libby Little.
And while the Littles may have felt a bit out of place at the White House, it's tough to find a better example of a life of service and sacrifice than that of Dr. Tom Little.
The president summed it up with a line from scripture, "greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends."
To donate to the Tom Little Memorial Fund, contact Interserve USA; P.O. Box 418; Upper Darby, PA 19082 or visit the organization's web site at www.interserve.org.