“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,” she told Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager during the February interview. She explained that she’s heard rumblings President Joe Biden might offer her the award as well, but she’s still not sure that she’d accept it. “Now I feel like if I take it, I’ll be doing politics, so I’m not sure,” she said.
Watch her chat in the Instagram video, below:
Parton continued, “But 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.” Kotb reassured her, saying, “I think everyone thinks you might deserve it.”
Dolly Parton receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom would be a monumental occurrence because the award, created by late President John F. Kennedy, is only given to those who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Many people believe Parton is worthy of the award, including former President Barack Obama. While appearing on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert in December 2020, Colbert asked Obama, “How does Dolly Parton not have a Presidential Medal of Freedom?” Obama said he was “shocked” to hear that the country singer was not a recipient. (So are we!) “That’s a mistake,” he explained. “She deserves one. I’ll call Biden.” Please do!
We’d love to be a fly on the wall during that call.