Marylanders to be honored in Oval Office


When President Bush grants the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of Arts to 17 scholars, musicians, historians and others today, two Marylanders will be among those singled out. Eva Brann, a professor at St. John's College in Annapolis, and Walter Berns, a Bethesda historian, will receive the humanities prize during Oval Office ceremonies.

Brann, a philosopher and intellectual historian, has taught at St. John's for the past 40 years, long ago emerging as a driving force at an institution The Weekly Standard once described as "the Great Books school ... where high thinking is carried on with democratic courtesies." Her voluminous writings, on subjects as diverse as imagination, denial and the nature of time, have their intellectual footing in the Greek classics. One of her recent books celebrates the potent innocence of the American experiment.

Berns, an emeritus professor at Georgetown University and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is a widely respected constitutional scholar. He has been a U.S. representative on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights ("They talk, talk, talk" he told The Sun in a 2003 interview) and a Guggenheim, Rockefeller and Fulbright fellow. His most recent book, Making Patriots, explores a paradox - that even though Americans founded their nation largely out of self-interest, they believe profoundly in a larger phenomenon: love of country.

The president and first lady Laura Bush will honor the two along with Virginia actor Robert Duvall, Connecticut historian John Lewis Gaddis and New York novelist Louis Auchincloss, among others.

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