Author, Quiet Hero (2010)
Former Fox News Anchor
Former MSNBC Anchor
CBS Inside Edition, Special Correspondent
3-time Emmy Awward Winning Journalist
Author, Blonde Ambition (2007)
Rita Cosby: My Father the Hero
The 700 Club
CBN.com -UNPACKING FAMILY HISTORY:
Years after her mother’s death, Rita Cosby finally nerved herself to sort through her mother’s stored belongings, never dreaming what a dramatic story was waiting for her.
Opening a battered tan suitcase, she discovered it belonged to her father—the enigmatic man who had divorced her mother and left their family when Rita was still a teenager. She says she was shocked and deeply saddened when she realized what she’d found.
One item in the suitcase stood out: a POW tag. “When I pasted it all together, I just wept because I knew what it meant to be a prisoner of war.” Rita knew little of her father’s past: just that he had left Poland after World War II, and that his many scars, visible and not, bore mute witness to some past tragedy. He had always refused to answer questions.
Now, however, Rita held in her hand stark mementos from the youth of the man she knew only as Richard Cosby, proud American: a worn Polish Resistance armband; rusted tags bearing a prisoner number and the words Stalag IVB; and an identity card for an ex-POW bearing the name Ryszard Kossobudzki.
What Rita found in the suitcase was just a glimpse into her father’s past, but immediately, Rita made a decision. “It was a turning-point,” she says. Rita and her father hadn’t spoken in a very long time. He’d divorced her mother after 32 years of marriage, and left, the then teenage Rita, without her father. But sitting by the open suitcase, confused and overwhelmed, Rita remembers saying, “I have to forgive this man.” She knew that, as a Christian, she needed to walk the walk and truly forgive her father.
Gazing at the profoundly telling relics, the well-known journalist realized that her father’s story was one she could not allow him to keep secret any longer. She went home, did some research, and ultimately called her father, a man she wasn’t certain was even still alive. “Here I am a journalist,” she says. “And I remember I was nervous making the call. I remember thinking, ‘I hope he’s ready, I hope he’s okay.” She reconnected with her father and when she finally persuaded him to break his silence, she heard of his harrowing past. It filled her with immense pride… and chilled her to the bone.
At the age of thirteen, barely even adolescent, her father had seen his hometown decimated by bombs. By the time he was fifteen, he was covertly distributing anti-Nazi propaganda a few blocks from the Warsaw Ghetto. Before the Warsaw Uprising, he lied about his age to join the Resistance and actively fight the enemy to the last bullet. After being nearly fatally wounded, he was taken into captivity and sent to a German POW camp near Dresden. After months in the camp, and weighing only 90 pounds, he and a few others finally made a daring escape from the concentration camp through the sewers. They were rescued by American forces. All this before he had left his teens.
This is Richard Cosby’s story, and one Rita felt the need to tell. She wanted to give her father the opportunity for closure. “I can at least feel like I tried,” she says. As she started the journey to tell this story, she realized it was also important for history. Eighty percent of her dad’s unit didn’t survive, and she says those who did make it, didn’t share the story.
“I do believe the Lord has a timing for everything,” Rita says. And it was time to tell her father’s story. But this story is also her own. It is the story of a daughter coming to understand a father whose past was too painful to share with those he loved the most, too terrible to share with a child . . . but one that he eventually revealed to the journalist. In turn, Rita convinced her father to join her in a dramatic return to his battered homeland for the first time in sixty-five years.
As Rita drew these stories from her father and uncovered secrets and emotions long kept hidden, father and daughter forged a new and precious bond, deeper than either could have ever imagined. “It’s fantastic,” Rita says of her relationship with her father today. “Wonderful. In many ways, better than most daughters and fathers.” She says they have gone through bumps, but she believes the Lord puts us through challenges and it’s the end of the day that really matters.
Rita is a renowned TV host and veteran correspondent, who anchored highly-rated primetime shows on Fox News Channel and MSNBC. She is currently a special correspondent for the top-rated CBS Syndicated Newsmagazine, Inside Edition. Honors for the three-time Emmy winner include the Matrix Award and the Jack Anderson Award.
Rita was also selected by Cosmopolitan Magazine as a "Fun and Fearless Female." A recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the Lech Walesa Freedom Award, she hosts the National Memorial Day Parade broadcast to all US military installations around the world. Her first book, Blonde Ambition, was a New York Times bestseller.
Rita Cosby is now on a mission to help our wounded troops and their families. Significant proceeds from Quiet Hero go to the USO’s Operation Enduring Care program. Rita is working to give voice and raise awareness on the critical issue of Post Traumatic Stress and the debilitating long term effects confronting our troops and thereby impacting all our citizenry.
Rita has become the national spokesperson for ICAMI’s (International Committee Against Mental Illness) stress disorders program and the United Stress Disorders Association, which focus on helping those with PTSD.
Her father received a special commendation from the prestigious Medal of Honor Society for his bravery.
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