FORMER FOX NEWS ANCHOR RECONNECTS WITH WWII WARSAW HERO – HER DAD
Rita Cosby says people who see her walking down the street in Manhattan often still think she’s on Fox News.
It’s been a few years since Cosby, an Emmy-winning radio host, journalist and veteran correspondent, was on that channel, but she is as busy as ever. She is a co-host and political editor at WABC radio in New York City and a correspondent for CBS’ “Inside Edition.”
Cosby is also the author of the bestselling 2010 memoir Quiet Hero: Secrets from My Father’s Past. As a speaker at the Legatus 2019 Summit, Cosby will be sharing the lessons about faith, forgiveness, and hope that she learned after reuniting with her father, a Polish native who was haunted by his experiences as a fighter and prisoner of war in World War II. Cosby recently spoke with Legatus magazine.
For people who don’t know your story, what is Quiet Hero about?
When I was a teenager, growing up, my father left the family, literally at Christmas. For a long time, I did not know very much about my father.
Just a few years ago, in late 2008, after my mother had passed away, we were going through an old storage locker and I found this briefcase. Inside was an old rusty POW tag and a bloody white-and-red fighting Polish armband. I saw a name on a card that looked like my father’s. My father was Polish, and I knew he had been in the resistance, but I didn’t have any idea to the degree that he had been a prisoner of war and what he had gone through.
I knew within minutes what I had to do. I knew that I had to forgive my father and find him, and see if he was alive.
What enabled you to forgive your dad?
On my mother’s death bed, she told me, “Your father was a hero. I hope you can forgive him.” What gave me strength was my faith. I knew as a Christian that I had to forgive him. I had to find out who he was.
How did you find your father?
I used my journalism investigative skills. When I located him, he was living outside of Washington D.C., and I remember taking the train ride down. I was so nervous. He looked a lot older. We didn’t really know each other. It was like two strangers meeting again and having to start from square one because there were so many long, lost decades.
How did the relationship develop?
My father passed away in 2012. We at least had a few years together, and we were best of friends at the end of my dad’s life. After telling me his story, my dad broke down in tears, and I found a very broken man with a lot of regrets and a lot of pain from the war and other things. I went from many years of anger and frustration to really admiring that he was even able to function given what I learned what he went through.
What had he been through in the war?
He lost almost 90 percent of his unit in the Warsaw Uprisings. He was in Warsaw, a 13-year- old citizen-soldier, when the Nazis invaded. He literally saw front-line fighting for 5 1/2 years, was captured and taken to a POW camp. He escaped through sewer pipes, and when he escaped, he was 90 pounds and 6 feet tall.
What have been some reactions to your book?
I get letters from people all over the world telling me that my book has inspired them to forgive. I’ve done book signings too where I’ve had Holocaust survivors saying, “You’ve inspired me. I’m going to go home and tell my grandkids my story now.” That’s been unbelievable for me, and an incredible gift.
What role has the Catholic faith played in your life?
Faith has always been an important part of my life. I feel like it’s given me, just as a journalist, incredible grounding and perspective. As a person, I felt it’s always motivated me and kept me appreciative and grateful for everything I’ve had and kept me able to connect to people and understand them.