Columbus teacher to memorialize WWII military member

Alan Birkemeier; photo courtesy of The Indiana Historical Society

The Indiana Historical Society has announced that a Columbus teacher is among eight middle school and high school educators who traveled to Washington, D.C. Through a program titled “Understanding Sacrifice,” Alan Birkemeier of Central Middle School is embarking on a mission to memorialize a World War II service member who never made it home and to help invigorate World War II teaching in American classrooms.

The IHS says that over the next nine months, Birkemeier and the other teachers will research the life and sacrifice of their chosen service member, called a fallen hero. In June 2019, the group will travel to Europe to continue their studies. Along the way, teachers will deliver a eulogy to their Fallen Hero at respective burial or memorial sites. Birkemeier will be among those visiting Luxembourg American Cemetery where his service member, Staff Sergeant Francis L. Raub of Indianapolis, is listed on the Wall of the Missing.

“This program allows me to shine a light on an unknown Hoosier hero and honor him by making his story known,” said Birkemeier. “Then the program will take these fallen heroes and use their stories as a lens to develop deep, meaningful World War II education.”

At the culmination of the program, Birkemeier and the other teachers will create a lesson plan and a Fallen Hero profile. These materials will be published by the program’s sponsor, the American Battle Monuments Commission, on its website in November 2019. The website is a free online classroom resource that currently hosts 54 lesson plans and 58 Fallen Hero profiles.

As Birkemeier begins to research Raub’s life and career, he welcomes information from anyone who knew the Hoosier hero. To share your story, email Birkemeier at