First Lady Michelle Obama travels to Fort Hood, Tex., on Tuesday with President Obama for a memorial service for the military personnel killed or wounded during last week's shooting spree, scrambling her daytime schedule. But the show goes on: The same day, in a pre-recorded segment, Mrs. Obama joins Elmo and Big Bird to mark the 40th anniversary of "Sesame Street."
The first episode of the new season on Tuesday hits exactly on the anniversary of the show's premiere in 1969. You may know, as avid followers of the first lady, that this is Mrs. Obama's second "Sesame Street" appearance; she was quite excited in May about meeting Elmo at the show's studios in Astoria, Queens, to tape a public service announcement.
"I never thought I'd be on 'Sesame Street' with Elmo and Big Bird and I was thrilled. I'm still thrilled. I'm on a high. I think it's probably the best thing I've done at the White House," she said then.
She also taped her segment for the anniversary show during the same visit. In that skit,Mrs. Obama is back at plugging gardening and health eating with three children -- an African American boy andtwo girls -- one Asian American, the other white. Together they plant tomato, cucumber, carrot and lettuce seeds in a makeshift garden box, with Mrs. Obama kibitzing with the kids, Elmo and Big Bird.
''Veggies taste so good when they come fresh from the garden, don't they?" Mrs. Obama says to the kids. "There's nothing like tomatoes from the garden." As she plants carrot seeds with Elmo, Big Bird appears.
Big Bird is excited. "Did I just hear right? The First Lady eats seeds? I love seeds. I didn't know you ate them too. Are you part bird?"
Mrs. Obama replies, "No, Big Bird, I'm not."
He isn't convinced. "You sure? You and I are both really tall. Maybe we are from the same family."
Mrs. Obama tells Big Bird, "I really don't eat these kinds of seeds at all. But I do eat what grows from the seeds." She adds, ''If you eat all these healthy foods, you are going to grow up to be big and strong, just like me.''
"And Me," chimes in Big Bird. "I'm still growing."
Then some vegetable puppets in a basket come to life. A head of lettuce tells Mrs. Obama, "We think you're great too," and a tomato wraps it up with "Let's hear it for the first lady!" Click play below to watch the segment:
Four first ladies have been on the children's program over the years: Mrs. Obama, Laura Bush, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barbara Bush. But Michelle Obama, born on Jan. 17, 1964, is the only who was growing up as "Sesame Street" turned America on to Big Bird, Cookie Monster and the rest of the gang. Click play below to watch Barbara Bush on Sesame Street:
Tuesday's "Sesame Street" will be brought to you by the letter H and the number 40; the "Sesame" word on the street -- Mrs. Obama did not use it -- is habitat.
Before the Fort Hood trip was announced, Mrs. Obama was scheduled for a visit to the Department of Labor on Tuesday afternoon, yet another stop on her tour of federal agencies. She was going to visit the department's child care center and read to the kids in the facility.
I'm not sure when the Obamas are returning to Washington. On Tuesday evening, the first couple was supposed to attend a National Arts and Humanities awards ceremony.
On Wednesday, Mrs. Obama attends a Veterans Day breakfast at the White House and goes with the president to Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony. (Military family matters have been part of the first lady's issues portfolio.)
Later in the day, she and Second Lady Jill Biden -- they were last together at the World Series opener at Yankee Stadium, wearing cool baseball jackets with their names on the back -- headline a "Be the Change Veterans Day Event" sponsored by ServiceNation at George Washington University.
After launching a mentoring program for young women last week, on Friday Mrs. Obama turns to senior women, attending a health care event focusing on older females and their families.
President Obama leaves for a 10-day Asian swing on Wednesday after the Arlington ceremony. He will travel to Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea. Unlike the president's other overseas trips, Mrs. Obama is not going along this time.
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