More than 50 years after the start of her legendary career, Loretta Lynn is still “the rule-breaking, record-setting queen of country music,” President Barack Obama proclaimed as he bestowed on her the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony at the White House on Wednesday.
The President referred to her rural roots as he began the ceremony to present her America’s highest civilian honor.
“Loretta Lynn was 19 the first time she won big at the local fair. Her canned vegetables brought home 17 blue ribbons, and made her canner of the year. Now that’s impressive! For a girl from Butcher Holler, Kentucky, that was fame,” the President joked to the laughing crowd. “Fortunately for us, she decided to try her hand at things other than canning.”
The commander-in-chief went on to commend Loretta for giving “voice to a generation singing what no one wanted to talk about and saying what no one wanted to think about,” referring to her ground-breaking songs about women’s rights. Feminist Gloria Steinham also happens to be in this year’s group of 16 honorees, along with Oprah Winfrey and former President Bill Clinton .
Dressed in white silk, the country legend thanked the President as he helped her up, and kissed him on the cheek after he put the medallion around her neck. Having recently cancelled two shows due to exhaustion, the 81-year-old did let the President walk her back to her chair, seeming to joke with him as he walked away.
Lynn captured the day in a series of photos posted to her Facebook page.
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