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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Published: February 21, 2014

9 Responses to “Create Your Own 24-Karat Friendship”

  1. Incredible article! Well written and extremely inspirational! Thank you John!

    Mark Calvin

  2. I have had true inspiration from a great man in Sitka Alaska . he gave me a chance to give to others , think out side your box , not to gain personal welth .inplace of giving to all for the right reason. to seek your hole life not knowing what your true meaning is . may are bless us all ,.

    Guest (ak247 98382)

  3. I have had dozens of people and kids read my kids magazine. As far as marketing I'm taking it right now. So no thanks. I know how I'm going to publish it. I have already had hard copies made.
    So I really don't think you can do me any good unless you would like a copy.

    Vickee Lucero

    Guest (Vickee Lucero)

  4. Wow, John. That is a great and truly inspirational story. And you're right. The support and guidance that I've received from my copywriting peers here has blown away any other kind of school environment I've ever been part of. And it all starts as simply as reaching out and getting advice or sharing your goals with fellow AWAIers. You're 24-karat friendship analogy is well deserving. Looking forward to reading more of your work.

    All the best, Jeremiah

    Guest (Jeremiah Magone)

  5. Hi John,

    This was such an inspirational week you've laid out for all of us here at "The Writer's Life" and being a big fan of the Olympics has made it that much better.

    As far as 'Making a Friend' through our writing experiences....well, You come to mind first. We had a few very interesting conversations together at Bootcamp 2013 and I look forward to seeing you there again this October as well. Thanks for that...and

    Thanks for a great week of articles!
    John DeProspo

    John DeProspo

  6. I wrote a piece which would make Shakespeare envious, its spiritual in nature. From out of within the flames of love. I finally found your warming my heart. Which peace and hope transcend from by yours to mine. At constant your echoes to energize its ways still enlighten my soul to me. Have with rhythm unite upon my spirit. Beyond sorrow beneath in me. Wanting me to find which always my heart has. In of past flame found gone. Spirits rose heavenly over into depths follow over. Be my guide forever more. Our dreams are true likewise peace and hope. End of Story JN

    Guest (JimmyNuzz)

  7. This piece gave me chills. Thanks, John

    Guest (Pat McCord)

  8. I have met so many incredible people from the bootcamp to the web intensive that I just went to.

    Pam Foster helped me figure out my niche ad helped me do a training for a blogging event last night. Rae Robinson gave me some valuable information about being focused. I met Michelle Petersen who taught me about twitter and Heather Robson who offered great website information.

    And of course I was able to speak intimately with Brian clark, Nick Usborne and Jay White.

    To be able to ask questions and truly have a conversation with these individuals has been a life changing event.


    Dede Sindelar

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