Originally billed as a chance to reflect on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a series of raucous tea party rallies around the country on Sunday ended up focusing almost entirely on an event still to come — the Nov. 2 election. Thousands of tea party activists also turned up at rallies in Washington, D.C., and St. Louis to spread their message of smaller government and focus their political movement on the pivotal congressional elections.
Many attending the various rallies wore red, white and blue clothing and carried yellow flags with the picture of a snake coiled above the inscription “Don’t Tread On Me.” The rallies also represent an opportunity to build momentum before the November election. The tea party is counting on its members to turn out in large numbers and prove that the movement is a political force with staying power. Organizers say the events intended to call attention to what they describe as big government run amok and to recall the sense of national unity Americans felt the day after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.