Presidential Medal of Freedom Awarded to David McCullough

David McCullough, the prize-winning historian and West Tisbury resident whose acclaimed works of nonfiction have all been written from his home off Music street, will receive the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom at a White House ceremony next week.

"David McCullough is one of our nation's most distinguished and honored historians. His books have earned him the respect of general audiences and scholars alike, and he is one of our foremost experts on the American Presidency," a press release from the White House announcing the recipients said yesterday.

Reached by telephone a short time after he had learned the news, Mr. McCullough said: "I'm thrilled and honored and how can I say it - it's the highest civilian award given in this country . . . I do know that it was started by Harry Truman and I like that too."

Mr. McCullough won the Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Truman in 1993. He won a second Pulitzer in 2002 for his biography of John Adams.

Mr. McCullough said yesterday when the White House spokesman called him to deliver the news, he was caught momentarily off guard.

"He said the ceremony is Dec. 15 and you can bring 10 people. I said, that's fine I would bring my 10 children and their spouses. He paused and said, ‘Mr. McCullough, that's 20 people.' Of course I have five children and I just wasn't thinking clearly. But I guess that's understandable, given the circumstances."