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The Smithsonian honored designer Ralph Lauren with the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal at a citizenship ceremony at the National Museum of American History yesterday and the scene could not have been more patriotic: Hillary Clinton stood resplendent in a custom cobalt blue Ralph Lauren silk suit, Ralph Lauren reflected on his childhood growing up in the Bronx with immigrant parents, and 15 brand new U.S. citizens waved tiny American flags. Everyone took home flag-emblazoned Ralph Lauren baseball caps.
Lauren was recognized for both his contributions to American design and entrepreneurship, and his support in preserving the Star-Spangled Banner, which is displayed at the National Museum of American History. It's this project that united Clinton and Lauren in 1998, when the First Lady headed up the "Save America's Treasures" program to help conserve the Star-Spangled Banner. Lauren donated $10 million to help restore the flag and $3 million for the historic preservation program.
"Ralph responded to the call. He didn't have to. Or he could've made a token contribution. But he understood because it was deep within him that part of being an American is giving back," Clinton said in her keynote address at the ceremony.