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Metropolitan Church Member Creates Bunting for Inauguration

By Marva Shand McIntosh
Photos by Troy Egerson and Marva Shand McIntosh

Although they wouldn’t know Myrtle Nora if they passed her on the street, millions of people all over the world saw her work on Tuesday, January 20th. This Allegheny East Conference member of the Metropolitan church in Hyattsville, Md., made all of the brilliant red, white, and blue bunting that adorned the United States Capitol for President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

While this 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 colorful backdrops for many preeminent national events and occasions.

In 2004 the Trinidad and Tobago native, who has lived in the U.S. 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 honored 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, D.C. This hardworking, naturalized U. S 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 program at the Metropolitan church where she has been a member for 30 years. This program 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, publicly acknowledged her contribution to this historic event. "It's truly an honor 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 honor she receives.”