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Tea Party rallies for a stop to government spending

April 15, 2010|By DAN DEARTH
  • Jim Warner, prisoner of war survivor, spoke Thursday afternoon at a local Tea Party rally at University Plaza in downtown Hagerstown
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer,

Slide show: Tea Party Tax Day Rally

HAGERSTOWN -- Two 55-passenger buses filled with local Tea Party members left Hagerstown to attend the conservative movement's national rally Thursday evening in Washington, D.C.

Some dressed in patriotic clothing, while others waved flags and held signs that read "Socialism is Stupid" and "Stop Bankrupting America" to protest excessive government spending.

"I think the Tea Party is here to stay," Garrett County resident Lynn Patton said. "I think the average citizen is starting to realize we're losing our freedom ... The government is going too far in debt and forgetting it's a government of the people, by the people and for the people."

Dee Armstrong said she traveled from Gerrardstown, W.Va., to attend the event.

"The government is already too big and getting bigger," she said with tears in her eyes. "This administration is a blessing because it's going so fast that it's a wake-up call."

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Hagerstown Tea Party organizer Neil Parrott said the Obama administration and a majority of Congress are creating a national debt in the neighborhood of $12.5 trillion that future generations of Americans will have to pay.

"We need to have a country that's more financially responsible," Parrott said. "That's why we're here today."

The event began around 3 p.m. in the first block of West Potomac Street, where about 200 Tea Party members lined both sides of the street and encouraged passing motorists to honk their horns to show support. The peaceful protest was interrupted for a few seconds by a self-professed supporter of President Obama, who called the Tea Party members "Fascists." The man who shouted the insult was ignored and walked by without incident.

Before the buses left at about 4:30 p.m., the protesters gathered in the sun around the fountain at University Plaza to listen to several speakers, including Dels. Andrew Serafini, R-Washington, and Christopher Shank, R-Washington, and Rohrersville resident James Warner, who was shot down over Vietnam and served 5 1/2 years in prisoner of war camps.

Warner, who also worked as an attorney for the National Rifle Association, said the recently passed health care legislation would cost trillions of dollars and help bankrupt the government.

"I don't think they pay attention," Warner said. "The Obama health care bill is going to raise premiums enormously."

Serafini suggested that politicians should spend money like it was their own.

"If you and I are running our households like the government is running theirs, we would be in jail," he said. "We can unite behind living within our means."

Shank thanked the Tea Party "for standing up for freedom."

He said the state and federal governments were to blame for burdening taxpayers and small-business owners with high taxes.

"We need to send a message to Washington tonight and to Annapolis in November," Shank said. "We're not going to take it anymore."

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