Loretta Lynn has received the highest civilian honor in the United States. The legendary country singer was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a ceremony at the White House on Wednesday (Nov. 20).

President Obama presented the medal in the East Room of the White House. The honor is given each year to a select few individuals "who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

Lynn's long career includes hits like 'The Pill,' 'One's on the Way,' 'You Ain't Woman Enough' and 'Fist City.' Her songs often depict women in a strong, empowered light that was unusual for her era; as a result, she is universally regarded as one of the most important trailblazers for women in country music.

Her best-selling 1976 autobiography, 'Coal Miner's Daughter,' was made into a smash hit film in 1980, earning Sissy Spacek an Academy Award for Best Actress.

A White House press release describes Lynn as “one of the first successful female country music vocalists in the early 1960s, courageously breaking barriers in an industry long dominated by men.”

Lynn's fellow honorees this year include President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, feminist Gloria Steinem and University of North Carolina head basketball coach Dean Smith.

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