KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Former President Barack Obama said it was a mistake to not award East Tennessee native Dolly Parton a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.
The 44th president appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Monday to promote his new memoir, A Promised Land. During a series of rapid fire questions, Obama was asked how the country music legend did not have a Presidential Medal of Freedom. He explained it was a mistake and said the Sevier County native was deserving of the honor.
First established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, the Presidential Medal of Freedom is awarded to, “individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Obama awarded the honor to dozens of recipients during his eight-year tenure, including musicians such as Yo-Yo Ma, Bob Dylan and Stevie Wonder. He also awarded a posthumous medal to legendary Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt in 2012.