A TOBAGO-born textile specialist played a prominent role in decorating the United States Capitol in Washington for the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Myrtle Sampson Nora, who is from Moriah, Tobago, did the original design which was viewed by millions around the world during the historic event. Her achievements were highlighted in a recent edition of The Visitor, a publication of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in the US, in a story written by Marva Shand McIntosh. The full story follows:
While Nora says this was her proudest career accomplishment, it was not her first. In January 2005, she also made similar patriotic drapery decoration for the inauguration of President George W Bush. Nora is a textile specialist in the textile division of the Rayburn Building on the campus of the Capitol. This position, which she has held for nine years, allows her to add her inspired touch to the creation of colourful backdrops for many preeminent national events and occasions.
In 2004 the Tobago native, who has lived in the US for 30 years, received an award from the chief office of administration in the House of Representatives. She was singled out for her diligence in sewing the black velvet covering for the Lincoln catafalque that supported the caskets of President Ronald W. Reagan in 2004 and President Gerald R. Ford in 2006.
This 143-year-old catafalque is a plain wooden box that supports and raises the caskets of prominent Americans whose bodies lie in state in the United States Capitol Rotunda. It was named for President Abraham Lincoln whose casket was the first to rest on it.
Another high point of Nora’s career came in November 2005 when she worked on the catafalque for Rosa Parks’ casket and the accompanying draperies in the Capitol Rotunda. She was honoured with a certificate of appreciation and received two days off from work.
In addition to all of that, Nora gets excited whenever a new set of lawmakers comes to Washington, DC. This hardworking, naturalised US citizen, makes all the window treatments that decorate the offices and committee rooms in the United States House of Representatives. She is quick to say how much she loves her work and to share the enjoyment she had working with the silk fabric that drapes the windows in the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
When she is not at work, Nora mentors five children and volunteers as the coordinator for the community service programme at the Metropolitan church where she has been a member for 30 years. This programme distributes more than 100 baskets of food to the Hyattsville community twice each month.
In a church service on the Sabbath before President Obama’s inauguration, Nora’s minister, Pastor Brenda Billingy, who is Trinidadian, publicly acknowledged her contribution to this historic event.
“It’s truly an honour to be able to share Nora’s talents with the world, and she did that in an exquisite fashion for the President’s inauguration,” said Pastor Billingy. “We are very proud of her, and together we celebrate the honour she receives.”
Nora was acknowledged by the Trinidad and Tobago ambassador to the US, Her Excellency Glenda Morean-Phillip. The Ambassador hosted a meeting of nationals of Trinidad and Tobago at the Embassy on Wednesday evening. Myrtle was asked to share her work experience with the group.