Country music icon and philanthropist Dolly Parton has never received the Presidential Medal of Freedom — but not for a lack of trying on the White House’s part. Dolly, 75, revealed in an interview with TODAY that President Donald Trump‘s administration tried to award her the nation’s highest civilian honor twice, but she turned them down each time.
The decision wasn’t about her disdain for the former president, she stressed in her interview. “I couldn’t accept it because my husband [Carl Dean] was ill and then they asked me again about it and I wouldn’t travel because of the COVID,” Dolly explained. She added that she’s already heard from President Joe Biden about the award, too, just three weeks into his presidency!
She’s not jumping onto the next plane to DC just yet, though. “Now I feel like if I take it, I’ll be doing politics, so I’m not sure,” Dolly said. In a previous TODAY interview, the singer said that she does not identify as a Republican or a Democrat, but rather a “hippo-crat” who stays out of everyone’s business. “I don’t work for those awards,” Dolly said in her recent interview 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.”
There’s no doubt that she does. The thirteen-time Grammy winner is a dedicated philanthropist who has done immeasurable good. Since 1995, the “Coat of Many Colors” singer has run Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a childhood literacy foundation that has donated more than 100 million books to needy kids.
Her Dollywood Foundation donated $1000 a month to hundreds of families in East Tennessee who lost their homes in the 2016 wildfires. And Americans even have her to partly thank for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Dolly donated $1 million to help fund coronavirus research at Vanderbilt University.
@DollyParton just when I think I couldn’t love Dolly anymore—her moral compass shows us the way. You are an amazing role model with the integrity of a saint. Hope my daughter turns out like you. ❤️
— Newsjunky🇺🇸🗽 (@citygirltoo21) February 2, 2021
Dolly’s fans have applauded her on Twitter for not taking the Medal of Freedom from Trump, even if it wasn’t for purely political reasons. “It always feels like you’re walking to the edge of a cliff the more you openly declare your love for a celebrity but damn it, Dolly ain’t failed us yet,” author Saeed Jones tweeted. “Just when I think I couldn’t love Dolly anymore—her moral compass shows us the way. You are an amazing role model with the integrity of a saint,” a Twitter user wrote. “Hope my daughter turns out like you.”