The two unusually long-distance callers didn't sing Ebony and Ivory.
Nor did they need to for me to know how integrated the song's lyrics are in their lives.
That's particularly noteworthy, given their urgent and weighty mission, to say nothing of where they are.
The Army's Lt. Col. Paul Huszar and Sgt. 1st Class Cedric Mize were calling from Iraq.
Their communique, arranged a few days earlier, lifted the veil not only on the intensity and the uncertainty of war but also on the beauty of a deep and unanticipated friendship.
''I was born and raised in Akron, Ohio, and lived there until I attended West Point in 1986, after graduating from Kenmore High School,'' Huszar said in an e-mail preceding the call. ''I am currently commanding the 37th Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Airborne) and Joint Task Force Eagle in Iraq.
''Last week I had the opportunity and privilege to re-enlist one of my outstanding senior noncommissioned officers, SFC Cedric Mize, who also happens to be a graduate of Kenmore High School — albeit 10 years after me in 1996.
''I hope you will strongly consider publishing an article and photos of SFC Mize, as his re-enlistment was a significant personal commitment for him in service to our nation. He is a superb leader of our soldiers in combat.''
Mize is a platoon sergeant for the Light Equipment Platoon, Bravo Company, 37th Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Airborne), based in Fort Bragg, N.C. The company is deployed supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, operating from Joint Base Balad.
''His leadership and technical skills guide his  soldiers through quality assurance missions in which they oversee civil development projects, as well as construction missions in support of U.S. forces throughout Diyala and Salah ad Din provinces in northern Iraq,'' Huszar continued. ''These projects play a vital role in Iraq's continuous progress and support the mis
sion of U.S. forces.''
On the phone, Huszar, who is white, and Mize, who is African-American, brimmed with respect and praise for each other's missions.
Huszar and Mize met at Fort Bragg, where they learned they were not only from the same area but also graduates of the same high school.
Huszar, valedictorian of his class (where he also earned eight varsity letters in soccer, baseball and football), obviously knew after being accepted at West Point that a military career was in his future.
Mize, on the other hand, took another route.
''I had no thoughts of the military until I was approached during my high school senior year by a Marine recruiter who was looking for top athletic leaders,'' said Mize, who was football captain. ''But I didn't commit!''
However, during the summer after graduation, Mize was working odd jobs and decided he wanted to learn how to operate a road grader. He ended up sharing that interest with an Army recruiter who told him he could make that happen.
Fourteen years later Mize, 33, insists he couldn't be happier with his choice.
Huszar — who will turn 42 on Friday and is coming up on 20 years' service — has no regrets about his journey, either.
''I'm living the dream,'' said Huszar, who has another year left on his command of the battalion. ''When I graduated from West Point as second lieutenant, my first unit was the 37th. Now I have the distinct honor to command this unit with the Joint Task Force, over 1,000 soldiers, and to witness their brilliance and hard work. It's so amazing and incredible to watch them in action.''
Huszar has been deployed to Iraq four times: in 2005 as a staff officer, in 2007 and 2008 as an operations officer and now as a commander.
He's seen a sea change in that time: ''We see our soldiers doing relevant missions and the overwhelming success of the Iraqi army. The mission really has changed drastically . . .
''Sgt. Mize's platoon is designed to do horizontal construction programs like earthmoving. We have transitioned his platoon to do work in civil capacity and development.''
Mize agreed, adding, ''We do more management of projects — rebuilding roads and bridges.''
''It's been pretty rewarding to see the drastic changes that have occurred since first invading the country to the counterinsurgency to now toward stability operation, where we partner with the Iraq government,'' Huszar said. ''We've gone from 3,000 IEDs [improvised explosive devices] a month to just over 400 a month throughout the country.''
Huszar and Mize say they're looking forward to Iraq's all-important national elections, which are scheduled for March 7. They see the vote as a real opportunity for all of the different factions — the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds — to be represented in the new government's way forward.
Of personal reward to Huszar and Mize when the going gets tough — and it still does — is that they have in each other someone who literally knows where the other is coming from and can share those special moments.
While there are still time-honored lines of demarcation between commissioned and non-commissioned officers, there's a healthy competitiveness, too. ''Every week on Fridays, we get together to play volleyball, field hockey, football or basketball. It keeps everyone levelheaded, especially living in such close quarters,'' Huszar said.
''Our policy is that our soldiers work tremendously hard running missions five days a week and should play hard. And we do an annual Turkey Bowl. . . . I can still keep on with the young kids. . . . This year the officers won 6-0 with a miraculous touchdown pass by our chaplain.''
The previous year had a different outcome, Mize — who has been with Huszar on two missions now — was eager to remind him.
Fortunately, neither soldier has been wounded, although there have been close calls.
''My personal security detachment has accumulated over 13,000 miles driven to date throughout Iraq, '' Huszar said. ''We have only been attacked once with an IED on 10 February 2010. The IED struck the lead vehicle in our patrol. . . . It disabled the vehicle and caused substantial damage but no one was injured in the attack.''
Both the sergeant and the lieutenant colonel are looking forward to someday getting back to Akron to visit family and friends and perhaps take in their next high school reunion.
Right now, they'll continue the mission helping freedom's cause: helping all folks to see that it is possible to live together in perfect harmony.
Oh, Lord, why don't we?
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.