Dolly Parton Reveals She Turned Down The Presidential Medal Of Freedom Twice

Terrence Smith

During an interview with NBC's Today, country music icon Dolly Parton revealed that she turned down two offers of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Donald Trump. While politics wasn't the reason for her refusals, she admitted that it could appear that way if she were to eventually accept one from President Joe Biden.

"I couldn't accept it because my husband was ill, and then they asked me again about it, and I wouldn't travel because of the COVID," Parton said as she explained her reasoning for turning down the highest civilian honor in the United States.

When told by Today host Jenna Bush that one of former President Barack Obama's biggest regrets was not giving her the award and that he would recommend Biden make up for his mistake, Parton expressed some hesitancy.

"Now I feel like if I take it, I'll be doing politics, so I'm not sure," she told the daughter of another former president, George W. Bush.

"I don't work for those awards. It'd be nice, but I'm not sure that I even deserve it. But it's a nice compliment for people to think that I might deserve it," the legend, who has become as well known for her humanitarian efforts as her music, continued.

Parton has operated the literacy program Dolly Parton's Imagination Library since 1995, which is responsible for donating more than 100 million children's books throughout its existence. She also operates the Dollywood Foundation, which donated $1,000 per month to several hundred families in Tennessee whose homes were destroyed by wildfires in 2016.

Parton's humanitarian efforts were once again in the spotlight in 2020 when it was revealed that she made a $1 million donation to Vanderbilt University as part of funding for coronavirus research. The university went on to help develop the Moderna vaccine.

During an interview with CNN, Parton said she is still waiting for her vaccine, but she doesn't mind.

"I'm going to get it, though. I didn't want to jump line. I didn't donate the money so I could be protected. I did it for everybody," she said.

During his administration, Trump only presented the Presidential Medal of Honor to a single musician, the late Elvis Presley. In contrast, Obama regularly bestowed musicians with the award, with icons such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Gloria Estefan and Barbra Streisand receiving it. Biden has not yet announced any new recipients in the early weeks of his administration.