In 2005, the National Endowment for the Arts honored Dolly with its National Medal of the Arts, the highest award given to artists and art patrons by the U.S. government. It is awarded by the president to people who, "...are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the U.S."
President George W. Bush presented the award to the 10 recipients including Robert Duvall in an Oval Office ceremony on Nov. 10, 2005. Dolly couldn't attend but received her medal in Chattanooga in September 2008.
“It was my dream always as a little girl up in those Smoky Mountains to be a singer and travel all over the world... I've been blessed... that I've been able to do more than even my original dream really was. I want to thank you, and people like you all over the world, that have allowed me to see my Smoky Mountain dreams come true.”