11:02 GMT26 February 2021
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    Parton has become a heroic figure in the United States during the coronavirus after the star pledged $1 million to the Vanderbilt University Medical Centre to aid in coronavirus research that culminated in the production of the Moderna vaccine.

    Dolly Parton admitted that she rejected the chance to receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President Donald Trump not once, but twice. 

    While speaking on the Today show on Monday, the 75-year-old music icon clarified that her refusal to take the US' highest civilian honor was unrelated to political preference. 

    "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 explained. 

    Parton also said that she has been contacted by the Biden administration about receiving the honor - but said she may not accept it for a third time to avoid doing something that could be seen as a political move.

    "Now I feel like if I take it, I'll be doing politics, so I'm not sure", she admitted. 

    During her 60 year career, Parton has avoiding expressing her political opinions and, as such, has become loved across the political spectrum. She has instead prioritised philanthropy but says she did not get involved in charity work for the sake of plaudits. 

    "I don't work for those awards. It'd be nice [to receive the Medal of Freedom] 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", she said. 

    ​In 1988, Parton launched the Dollywood Foundation after the opening of the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The non-profit initially started out as a means of awarding scholarships to high school students but has expanded its activities since then.

    Most notably, the foundation led to Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, "a book gifting program which mails high-quality, free books to more than a million children around the world each month". The Imagination Library has donated "100 million children's books in the past 26 years", according to Today.

    Parton also personally "donated $1 million to help fund coronavirus research at Vanderbilt University, which helped make the Moderna vaccine" amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

    Parton has also become one of the US's most beloved cultural stars having released 51 studio albums and sold 100 million copies worldwide. 

    Former President Barack Obama was personally asked why she has yet to be given a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Last year, while speaking on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert last year, the 59-year-old former commander-in-chief said he was "shocked" to discover Dolly had not received the honor, calling it "a mistake".

    "Actually, that was a screwup, I'm surprised. I think I assumed that she'd already got one and that was incorrect. I'm surprised, she deserves one", he said.

    ​In his last remaining days in office, Obama gave the much-lauded civilian medal to then-Vice President Joe Biden.

    Tags:
    coronavirus, COVID-19, award, United States, President
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