Create Your Own 24-Karat Friendship
“My heart is telling me that this is perhaps the last letter of my life. If that is so, I beg one thing from you.
When the war is over, please go to Germany, find my son and tell him about his father.
Tell him about the times when war did not separate us and tell him that things can be different between men in this world.
Your brother, Luz.”
As it turns out, Luz Long predicted his fate.
On July 14, 1943, during the allied invasion of Sicily, Long was killed in action while serving in the German army.
So, what made him write the above letter?
As the German long jump champ, Long was eager to compete at the 1936 Olympics against the world record holder at the time, American Jesse Owens.
During the preliminary competition round, 23-year-old Long set a new Olympic record, while Owens fouled out on his first two jumps. One more foul and Owens would be eliminated.
That’s when something remarkable happened.
Long went up to Owens and introduced himself. Then he said …
“Something must be eating you. You should be able to qualify with your eyes closed.”
They talked for a few minutes, and Long offered Owens some advice …
“Look, why don’t you draw a line a few inches in back of the board and aim at making your take-off from there? You’ll be sure not to foul, and you certainly ought to jump far enough to qualify. What does it matter if you’re not first in the trials? Tomorrow is what counts.”
Suddenly, all the tension flowed out of Owens’ body. He followed Long’s advice and qualified with almost a foot to spare.
Long’s goodwill didn’t end there.
After a back-and-forth battle, with Owens capturing the gold medal (and Long the silver medal), Long was the first to congratulate him.
Then, in the greatest demonstration of brotherhood, the two men walked arm and arm around the Olympic Stadium stopping to pose for photos along the way.
Owens later said …
“It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler … You can melt down all the medals and cups I have, and they wouldn’t be plating on the 24-karat friendship that I felt for Luz Long at that moment.”
One of the great things about the freelance writing community is that your colleagues don’t view you as their competitor. Your fellow writers are often more than willing to offer you guidance, feedback and friendship as you proceed along your freelance writing journey.
Make it a point to reach out to people. Join and participate in message boards and Facebook groups. Go to conferences. Email someone you’ve never met and let them know you enjoyed something they wrote. Get involved. Get active. Be social.
As for Owens, he did honor the request of his departed friend, travelling to Germany and visiting with Long’s son. To this day the families of each man have kept in touch.
Have you made any great (and supportive) friends as a result of your writing career? If so, please share your comments here.
One of the things I enjoy when I’m doing research for my writing is that I get to “meet” and gain inspiration from people and stories from the past. Here’s an article I wrote recently about one of the greatest Olympic champions of all time: “Six Lessons From the One-Time ‘Fastest Woman Alive’ That Will Energize Your Writing Career.”
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