Dolly Parton Has Turned Down the Presidential Medal of Freedom Twice

Dolly Parton is an absolute legend. Though she launched her career in the 1960s, she has not slowed down since. It’s been about more than just music for Parton, who is also a multi-instrumentalist, actress, author, businesswoman, and humanitarian.

The Tennessee native has given society so much, yet she has turned down the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice.

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton | Pete Still/Redferns

Dolly Parton is a national treasure

For over 60 years, Parton has had an extensive career. She has written hundreds upon hundreds of songs, including “9 to 5,” “Jolene,” and “I Will Always Love You.” However, her work goes well beyond the stage. She is a philanthropist who even contributed $1 million of her $500 million net worth to COVID-19 research. Some of that money helped fund Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

She’s also used her voice to sing, and championed causes like Black Lives Matter while speaking out against police brutality. Parton has also run the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a literacy program since 1995, and her Dollywood Foundation has impacted the lives of many.

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Dolly Parton writes songs everywhere

The mega-talented singer/songwriter and businesswoman has not slowed down even a little despite her expansive career. In fact, she still writes songs everywhere, and she’s bound to get inspiration from even the strangest places.

Growing up on a farm in Tennessee with 11 siblings, Parton found refuge in graveyards; they were her quiet place to think and be creative.

“I love graveyards. I like to look at the gravestones and names and try to imagine what their lives were like. I’ve gotten many ideas for songs there,” Parton told Bustle. “I just sit in the graveyard and feel the energies, the lives, and the memories. I know it sounds morbid to some, but I enjoy the peace of it.”

Parton has also learned to stay ready when inspiration strikes her, even writing down lyrics on unlikely surfaces. “I’ll write on anything,” she said. “If I come up with an idea, [I’ll take] whatever is in my pocketbook, [even] if it’s the last receipt I got from the drive-through at McDonald’s. I’ll write on a Kleenex box or even on the back of my hand if I don’t have something else handy.

This is why Dolly Parton has turned down the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Having contributed so much to society, it makes sense that Parton should be recognized for her efforts. She was offered the honor of the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice, but she turned it down both times. Former President Donald Trump offered her the Medal, but she could not accept it either time.

“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,” she told TODAY. Parton also revealed that current President Joe Biden has reached out to her about it already.

“Now I feel like if I take it, I’ll be doing politics, so I’m not sure,” she said. “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.”