Could Dolly Parton be one of Joe Biden’s first Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients when he takes office? That’s the question on everyone’s lips after former president Barack Obama said he regrets not awarding the country icon the medal during his tenure. Obama told Stephen Colbert on Monday’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” that it was a “screw-up.”
“That was a mistake,” Obama said. “Actually, that was a screw-up,” I’m surprised. I think I assumed that she had already got one, and that was incorrect.”
“She deserves one. I’ll call Biden,” the former president said during the interview to promote his new memoir “A Promise Land.”
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Colbert, during the show, had wanted to know why Parton does not have a Presidential Medal of Freedom after all of her humanitarian work. The 74-year-old country star last month made a $1 million donation to help fund the research that eventually led to the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. In April, the “9 to 5” singer donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University just weeks after COVID-19 was declared a worldwide pandemic, according to reports.
In an interview, the singer said she was, “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.”
It is on the back of these philanthropic works that some have wondered why the singer does not have a Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the highest awards given to civilians of the United States, was first established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963. The medal is given to those who have provided an “especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Obama, during his eight-year tenure, handed out 123 Presidential Medals of Freedom, the most ever handed out, according to media reports. The former president however admits he should have given Parton one.