When Blake Schipper thinks about heroes, he thinks of his cousin, a Marine corporal who died in Afghanistan a month before Blake was born.
Blake, a Pine Island Elementary School third grader, wrote an essay about Marine Cpl. Peter Clore and his bravery. Blake is one of a handful of youngsters recognized by Storyworks Jr. magazine for his writing.
After he and his class read about firefighters who battled the great Chicago Fire of 1871, Blake was inspired to complete a writing activity comparing those courageous firefighters to another brave person. His second cousin, Peter Clore, a Marine dog handler, died in Afghanistan at age 23 in 2011. Clore was killed while conducting combat operations in Helmand province. He was locating improvised explosive devices when his unit came under enemy fire.
For the assignment, students were tasked with writing to one of the characters of the story about the Chicago fire. Blake decided to write to one of the firemen in the story thanking him for his service and telling the story of Clore.
“Thank you for your service as a firefighter. The people that were in the parking lot were saved by you. You’re their hero,” Blake wrote. “He (Clore) was a hero because he fought for his country. Just like you are a hero for fighting the fires,” he added.
In mid-February, teacher Laura Lamoreaux received a package in the mail containing a letter of congratulations and a signed copy of the children’s book “I Survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871” by Laura Tarshis.
“I’m so proud of him,” Lamoreaux said.
Although Blake is a “math whiz” and math is his favorite subject, he took the initiative from the magazine’s “Think and Write” section to submit the essay.
Lamoreaux said the story of the Marine is “near and dear” to her heart as her son is an active duty Marine.
When mom Lyndsay Schipper received a call from school about Blake’s recognition, she initially thought something was wrong, but was pleasantly surprised.
“He knew what he wanted to say in his paper. I am a very proud parent,” she said.
A Canine Companion
Clore’s legacy lives on through his dog, who was the Marine’s companion until the end.
“His dog is still alive,” Blake said about Duke, a black Labrador retriever who was adopted by Clore’s family. Schipper said it was important for her family not to forget about Clore.
“The fact that my aunt and uncle adopted Peter’s dog Duke, the dog that stayed with Peter even after being shot and killed, is pretty neat,” Schipper said. She said Blake plays with Duke during family gatherings in the summer.
All third graders received a subscription to Storyworks Jr., a Scholastic publication, paid for by the Pine Island Parent Teacher Organization.
Blake has been busy reading the book about the Chicago Fire, part of the “I Survived” series of books about historical events.