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As part of the, um, celebration of something the folks at Homeland Security call National Preparedness Month, the feds will unveil their plot to use beloved Sesame Street characters to keep youngsters afraid, very afraid.

The program, called “Let’s Get Ready! Planning Together for Emergencies,” will feature Grover and other trusted Sesame Streeters explaining that youngsters should make sure their families have discussed what to do with “any type of critical situation” and that they all “strategize to confront emergencies.”

The specifics of “Let’s Get Ready!” will be disclosed at a press conference this morning at Tyler Elementary School in Southeast. Meryl Chertoff, wife of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, and Rosita, a Hispanic character on the kids’ show — turns out September is also Hispanic Heritage Month, and, besides, we want our children of color frightened, too — will lead the proceedings.

Devious as the government scheme surely is (Grover, how could you?) this make-sure-the-kids-are-terrified strategy is hardly new.

When I got to Westlawn Elementary School in Falls Church about 40 years ago, teachers made us hide under desks or get on our knees with face down on the floor and our hands over the back of our heads in the hallway once a month, which was plenty enough to get us to all grow up knowing the Commies were going to bomb us into oblivion.

Those routines are about the only thing I remember about elementary school.