| (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_Owens ())|
One man killed 6 million people and started a war which killed millions upon millions more. Jesse Owens was one of the few people to ever stand up to the cruel dictator, Adolf Hitler. Jesse Owens, in my opinion, is a role model and hero but in order to understand why I believe Owens is a hero, the definition of a hero, to me, must be clear. I've always thought of heroes as people who, through hard work, ambition, and dedication, change the world for the better. Owens not only changed the world for the better but he also used his ambition, hard work, and dedication to fuel his success. America and our allies went to war against Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in 1936, Jesse Owens, arguably one of the greatest Olympic Track & Field athletes of all time, defeated Hitler's alleged superior Aryan athletes in the 1936 Olympics held in Berlin, Germany. Owens showed the entire world Hitler was wrong by winning four gold medals and humiliating him in front of thousands upon millions of spectators watching. Owens was able to achieve this feat through hard work, ambition and dedication. Owens, however, was more than just an Olympic athlete, he was also a great sportsman of exemplary conduct and character and thus, a hero.
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From a young age, Owens worked hard and, because he did, he changed the lives of others for the better. He grew up in a poor family where everybody worked albeit for little to no money. Despite his family's limited pay, Owens still worked hard and long hours, even when sick: "Owens was often sick from his battles with chronic bronchial congestion and pneumonia. Still, he was expected to work, and at the young age of seven he was picking up to 100 pounds of cotton a day to help his family put food on the table" ("Jesse Owens" Bio). Owens worked because it was the right thing to do, and even when he didn't want to, he did it anyways. Owens worked hard when it mattered and achieved things most people in his circumstances would never even hope to achieve. As well, in college, Owens's wife made no money and because Owens was a hard worker he supported them both, "...With a variety of jobs - as a night elevator operator and a waiter, by pumping gas and working in the library stacks, and through a stint as a page in the Ohio Statehouse, all of this in between practice and record setting on the field in intercollegiate competition"("Jesse Owens" Jesse Owens Foundation). Jesse Owens worked all day and all night trying to support his family. No matter how long he worked he never gave up on either his family or his career. Even though at times he didn't want to, and even though it was hard, Jesse worked long hours every day and night not only for his own sake but for his family's as well. Overall, Owens's hard working attitude helped him change the world for other people than himself and that's what made him a hero.
| (http://nypost.com/2013/11/13/historic-jesse-owens- ())|
Owens's ambition and iron will to succeed guided him to do what many, to this day, call impossible. During his college years Owens worked many jobs and participated in many track and field events. While he was there, "He won the 100-m dash in 10.3 sec, equaling the Olympic record; set a new Olympic and world record of 20.7 sec in the 200-m dash; and won the running broad jump with a leap of 26 ft 53/8 in., setting a new Olympic record" (Owens, Jesse). Owens did all of this and more while doing many jobs around campus without breaks or complaining. Owens had the ambition to keep training, to keep going, and to work as hard as he could because he knew what he could and wanted to accomplish. Owens continued to work hard and soon found himself in the 1936 Olympic Games with Adolf Hitler: "For Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games were expected to be a German showcase and a statement for Aryan supremacy" ("Jesse Owens" Bio). Owens completely dominated the games winning 4 gold medals and showing the world the Germans could be beat. Owens's ambition to come to the Olympics and win made him a hero to all, his determination to let not even Hitler and the Nazis stop him made him a legend.
| (http://library.osu.edu/projects/jesse-owens/story_ ())|
As a result of his success at the collegiate level, Owens was selected to represent the United States of America at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. It was at these same 1936 Olympics where Adolf Hitler planned to prove to the whole world the superiority and complete domination of the German Aryan athletes over all other participating countries. Hitler, the same man who would later exterminate over 6 million people and lead the world into war resulting in the death of tens of millions of other people, planed on achieving his first great victory in the Olympic games held in his own country years earlier. He was, instead, defeated by the dominance of Jesse Owens's 1936 Olympic performance resulting in 4 gold medals. Despite his dominance as both a collegiate and Olympic athlete, it was Jesse Owens's sportsmanship, conduct and character which I find most admirable. During a particular track and field meet, Jesse Owens's opponent had a faulty starting block which lead to Owens winning the race. It was reported that, "In one competition in mid-1936, Owens offered to run a 50-yard dash again when he learned that a competitor, Eulace Peacock, had suffered from a faulty starting block; the race was conducted again, and Owens came in second to Peacock. He did not contest the outcome and earned public praise for his sense of fair play" ("Jesse Owens" Notable). As a result of the sportsmanship demonstrated by Jesse Owens, Owens earned the respect of many and became a man who put fair and honorable play in front his own personal gain. Owens did not only demonstrate great sportsmanship and admirable conduct and character in defeat but also in victory. Shortly after his congratulatory welcome upon coming home to United States after his 4 gold medal performance in the 1936 Olympic Berlin games, Jesse Owens and his accomplishments were quickly forgotten: "The athlete wouldn't be properly recognized until 1976, when President Gerald Ford awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The mild-mannered Owens seemed not the least bit surprised by his home country's hypocrisy" ("Jesse Owens Bio."). Owens never cared about medals or becoming famous, he only cared about doing the right thing. Even though Owens knew he should've been better respected at home for what he accomplished on behalf of his country, he didn't mind. He cared more that he did his part to serve his country making him, in my opinion, more of a hero than had he been celebrated as one. I believe Owens's sportsmanship, conduct and character made him a hero not only to our country but to the world.
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Jesse Owens showed the world anything is possible, from breaking multiple world records within the same day to standing up to the cruelest dictator the world has ever known. Owens's performance during the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games was astonishing for two reasons. First being a black man won 4 gold medals amongst some of the greatest athletes in the world is unbelievable, two being that in the same day Owens also made one of the most hated men in history look like a joke in front of his country and the rest of the world: "...The 1936 Olympics seemed to be all about a confrontation between Owens and Hitler. In the end, his accomplishments alone were enough to rebut all the Nazi claims of Aryan superiority" ("Jesse Owens" Notable). Owens alone made all of Hitler's claims of German superiority look childish. For a black man who grew up in a poor family to go all the way to the Olympics and make headlines for years to come was downright unbelievable at the time. That day Owens didn't look like a black man, instead he looked like a fellow American who did his country proud. Through determination, sportsmanship, hard work, and ambition Jesse Owens was able to overcome any obstacle that came his way. Owens accomplished something many to this day have not, he played fairly and did the right thing, that's what makes him a hero to not only me but to the world.
"Jesse Owens." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 25 Mar. 2015.
"Jesse Owens." Notable Sports Figures. Ed. Dana R. Barnes. Detroit: Gale, 2004. Biography in Context. Web. 25 Mar. 2015.
"Jesse Owens." The Jesse Owens Foundation. Jesse Owens Foundation, 1999-2000. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.
"Owens, Jesse." Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia (2014): 1p. 1. Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.
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Last edited 4/21/2015 12:00:00 AM