Established in 1965 in honor of James Smithson, founder of the Smithsonian Institution, the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal is given to those who, according to the organization, “have made distinguished contributions to the advancement of areas of interest to the Smithsonian.” On June 17, 2014—three months before the 200th anniversary of the raising of the Star-Spangled Banner—G. Wayne Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, presented Ralph Lauren with the medal. According to the Smithsonian, the award was given in recognition not only of Mr. Lauren’s efforts to preserve the Star-Spangled Banner but also of “his lifetime of contributions to American entrepreneurship, artistry, creativity and vision.”
Mr. Lauren joins a distinguished list of recipients that includes Clint Eastwood, Julia Child, Billy Joel and George Lucas. Their work and accomplishments are woven into the very fabric of American culture.