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Ralph Lauren will be awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal at an event in Washington, D.C., that will include a naturalization ceremony, where 15 people will take their oath of allegiance to become U.S. citizens.
The ceremony, which will include political dignitaries and constituents from the Smithsonian Institution, will take place in June. A date has yet to be determined.
The medal recognizes Lauren’s lifetime contributions to American entrepreneurship, artistry, creativity and vision. Lauren played a leadership role in the preservation of the Star-Spangled Banner at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The flag, which inspired the national anthem, is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year.
In 1998, Lauren donated $13 million as part of the kickoff to the Save America’s Treasures campaign. The flag was the signature project of the campaign. The process of conserving the flag began in 1998 and was completed in 2006. The goal was to stabilize the original fabric and clean the flag to preserve the original design; the flag was not preserved to look like new.
The James Smithson Bicentennial Medal was established in 1965 to honor the 200th anniversary of the birth of Smithson, founder of the Smithsonian Institution. Smithson died in 1829. Lauren will be the 70th recipient since 1990. Past recipients have included Clint Eastwood, Billy Joel, Jerry Lee Lewis, Steven Spielberg, Jim Henson, George Lucas, Dale Chihuly, Julia Child, Jacques Cousteau, Walter Cronkite, Rosemary Clooney, Hal Roach, Lady Bird Johnson, Tito Puente and Robert Redford.