Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

IMG_1835(Rita Cosby/Photo by Nicole Vranjican for The New York Observer)

A generous spirit and an important cause. Today (11/18) is Rita Cosby’s 50th birthday and, it’s safe to say, she’s managed to do a lot of living in that time. The well-known and highly-respected TV journalist and radio host is also the author of two bestselling books, including Quiet Hero in which she chronicled the story of her late father Richard Cosby, aka Ryszard Kossobudzki who courageously fought with the Polish Resistance against Nazi occupation during WWII. (You can read my review of that engrossing work here).

It was her father’s life — and his love for America was obviously passed onto her — that inspired Rita to mark her milestone by honoring the men and women who have risked it all — and paid dearly — for our country.  As a result, a fantastic benefit for the Wounded Warrior Project was held at  New York City’s  Edison Ballroom last night. Since I worked with Rita during her days at Fox News, I was honored to be among those in attendance.

The event was hosted by Geraldo Rivera who, besides expressing his friendship for Rita and support of the Wounded Warriors, also made sorrowful — and angry — note of the cruel beheading of former Army Ranger and aid worker Peter Kassig, the latest hideous atrocity committed at the hands of the homicidal hate group ISIS.  Others on the roster included Rita’s life partner singer/composer Tomaczek Bednarek, actor Dominic Chianese (of The Sopranos), The Voice‘s Blessing Offor,  iconic singer Dionne Warwick and her similarly-talented granddaughter Cheyenne Elliott. Robert Davi sang The House I Live In, the lyrics of which (“All races and religions, that’s America to me) powerfully portrays what separates the values of America from those of its enemies.

Most moving of all, were the wounded vets themselves, especially a demonstration by one of them of an amazing exoskeleton that has been developed to help paralyzed soldiers garner mobility. It was truly amazing and inspirational to watch.

Actors Eduardo Verástegui (Bella, For Greater Glory) and David Henrie of the upcoming film Little Boy, which is about the love of a seven-year-old boy (Jakob Salvati) for his soldier dad, were also on hand to show their support for the wounded vets. The film, which is being executive produced by Verástegui (along with Mark Burnett and Roma Downey), also stars Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson, Kevin James, Ben Chaplin, Michael Rapaport, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Ted Levine. Little Boy scheduled to debut on February 27, 2015 and looks really promising.

I had the opportunity to talk with some of Rita’s notable friends during the event. They all expressed admiration for her and the cause she has embraced. Here are some of the highlights.

Tomaczek Bednarek (on Little Boy): It is absolutely stunning! Magnificent! It absolutely resonates deep into your heart.

Blessing Offor (on Wounded Warriors): What I do is dependent upon what they (the soldiers) do. I think what we all do is dependent upon what they do.

Fox News anchor Heather Childers: Working at Fox News, we’re huge supporters of the military. If there’s anything that we can do to come out and support them and make their lives better, we do.

Fox Business News anchor Cheryl Casone: I do a segment on Fox & Friends called Deployed to Employed to help our heroes find jobs when them come home from the battlefield. That’s why Wounded Warriors is so important to me. I want to see them move on with their lives in a positive way.

Eduardo Verástegui: I’m here to applaud the sacrifice of the many who are here who are true heroes and do honor not only the sacrifice that they make — but their families. In the movie that I made called Little Boy (we try) to capture the heart and the soul of this great country (and show) gratitude. We made this movie so that everybody can learn about the sacrifice (these) men and women (of the military) make for freedom not only for this country but for the whole world. It’s because of their sacrifice that we have freedom.

Actor Paul Sorvino: I was in the service. I understand what they’re going through and what they mean to us. So, any chance that I have to support them, I do.

Robert Davi: The cornerstone of our nation is our defense. We had the Revolutionary War that created our nation…After Vietnam, that there was a bit turnaround in our country in terms of our respect for our military, those guys that have sacrificed limbs, blood (and have sometimes had to deal with( psychological issues. The tremendous love they have given us and shown our country in protecting our freedoms (deserves our gratitude). Whatever little thing I can do for these guys to show my appreciation, I’m more than happy to do.

Fox 5 New York anchor Ernie Anast0s (on Rita Cosby): Rita’s such a sweetheart…She is a very positive person, very well-versed in trying to help people out, including her support for the Wounded Warriors organization…I’m very proud of what she does.

My trusty recorder unfortunately failed to capture usable recordings of several other conversations. I spoke (separately) with famed brain surgeon/potential 2016 presidential candidate Ben Carson and the Amazing Kreskin. Both men spoke eloquently spoke about the importance of supporting our military and learning from history so we don’t end up repeating it. They also spoke about the future. Kreskin suggested that he’ll soon have some predictions to make regarding America’s current and future challenges in the world. As for Dr. Carson, when I asked him about a possible 2016 presidential run, he told me that he’s exploring the level of his support and suggested that I stay turned. I will.

I’m most disappointed, however, that my conversation with real-life wounded warrior Peter Torruella didn’t come out. The Iraq War veteran told me of how Wounded Warriors helped him upon his return. The good news is that he’s happy and doing well today. It was indeed an honor to speak with him.

I also saw Kimberly Guilfoyle of Fox News’ The Five but, unfortunately, did not get the opportunity to speak with her. I would have loved to have asked her why that final segment on the show is called “One More Thing” when it’s actually “Five More Things” (one “thing” from each host). Wouldn’t calling it “Five More Things” actually be more in keeping with the whole five host concept? Just asking. But I digress.

The important point of this piece is this: The Wounded Warrior Project has been helping to honor and empower wounded veterans for ten years now. They deserve our support. For information on how you can help click here.

Finally, when I asked Rita herself about for some words of wisdom as the hit the big 5-0, shetold me that it’s, basically, all in the giving back. She said she was happy to be able to use her big day to support Wounded Warriors. Doing so was also a way for her to pay tribute to her warrior dad.

Happy Birthday, Rita! You’re an inspiration on how to enthusiastically embrace and enjoy life while also giving of yourself to others. A class act.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus