February 5

Here’s Why Dolly Parton Turned Down The Presidential Medal of Freedom – Twice!

Besides being Queen of Country, Dolly Parton has always had a philanthropic side that stretches back several decades ago. 

Since 1995, the country superstar has run Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a children’s literacy program that has grown into an international organization reaching all fifty states and also in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. The book gifting program has been donating more than one million books per month to children worldwide.

In 2016, following a wildfire in the Great Smoky Mountains region of her native Tennessee, which left hundreds homeless, Parton and the Dollywood Foundation immediately launched the My People Fund to help those who had lost their homes. The Fund was able to give a total of $10,000 to more than 900 families whose homes were uninhabitable, over the course of six months.

Indeed, Parton has proven to be quite the philanthropist, utilizing her fame and wealth to act as an empowering and charitable force, and it turns out even presidents have noticed!

The country icon recently revealed that President Donald Trump’s administration offered her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, not once but twice. However, Parton turned it down both times.

“I got offered the freedom award from the Trump administration. I couldn’t accept it because my husband was ill,” Parton explained to NBC’s Today program. “Then they asked me again about it, and I wouldn’t travel because of the COVID.”

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest award a civilian could receive from the president of the United States. It is given to honor individuals who have made significant contributions, not only in the United States but all over the world. 

Now, only two weeks into his term, Parton said she had already heard from President Joe Biden. However, she feels hesitant to accept the third offer. “Now I feel like if I take it, I’ll be doing politics, so I’m not sure,” she said.

Last fall, President Barack Obama appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” and he admitted he was “shocked” Parton had not gotten a Presidential Medal of Freedom during his time in office. “That was a screw up,” he said. “I think I assumed she had already got one.”

Even so, the singer added that she feels like she does not deserve the award. “But I don’t work for those awards,” she said. “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.”

Parton’s most recent headlines follow the announcement of her $1 million donations to Vanderbilt University Medical Center to help fund the research in fighting the coronavirus. A few months later, news broke that the country star’s generosity was partly used to fund Moderna’s vaccine, which trials result is absolutely remarkable – having an efficacy of 94.1%, far above what most vaccine scientists were presuming. So, you can thank the “Jolene” singer when we finally can get back gathering or clubbing come summertime.

“I just felt so proud to have been part of that little seed money that will hopefully grow into something great and help to heal this world,” Parton said on BBC One’s The One Show when asked about her contribution. “I’m a very proud girl today to know I had anything at all to do with something that’s going to help us through this crazy pandemic.”

Guess we can all assure Dolly Parton that no one deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom more than her. 


Dolly Parton

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