As they say at the Olympics, fashion designer
It was an emotional ceremony at the
"I've always been inspired by America, but I never thought I'd get an award for it," Lauren said softly while accepting the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal for his contributions to preserving the tattered flag that inspired the national anthem. The flag is now back on display at the museum.
It also was emotional because 15 immigrants (one for each of the 15 stars on the flag), from
For Lauren, born
"You're very lucky to be here," he told the immigrants. "I started with nothing but good parents and a good family, but the opportunity that I had to use my talent -- America gave me that."
Sixteen years ago, Clinton, whose first-lady projects included saving America's treasures, asked Lauren for help in preserving the deteriorated Star-Spangled Banner; he gave
"It got the ball rolling," Lauren said after the ceremony. "I've had a good life, a wonderful life, and I've tried to do my best to give back."
Lauren said he doesn't like to be called a philanthropist, but he has become almost as famous for his generosity as for his global brand. Last month, he was honored by
Still, he said he felt especially touched by the Smithsonian honor and its connection to his feelings about America.
"What I've done, I've done from the heart, because it's the right thing," he said. "And I've been successful doing that."
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