Black and white illustration of a child with big eyes, freckles and a black ribbon with polka dots in their hair with red text above an black text below on a white background
"Be Alert. This Country Needs Lerts" is a play on words based on converting the adjective "alert" into the noun "lert" and the indefinite article "a." The word "lert" has no meaning in English, and the wordplay was done for humorous effect.
The phrase may have origins from Great Britain during the Cold War, where posters in the London subway system warning citizens to "Be Alert" were allegedly defaced in a similar way.