Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.
A hero’s story. I’m a little late to the party celebrating journalist Rita Cosby‘s book Quiet Hero: Secrets from My Father’s Past (Simon & Schuster). Now in paperback, it first came out in 2010 and spent a decent amount of time on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today. But better late than never.
Both epic and intimate in its scope, the book tells the compelling story of how the death of her mother led the well-known cable TV reporter to turn her investigative skills toward solving the mystery of her own estranged father’s past.
It was Christmas Eve of 1983 when Richard Cosby rocked the then-teen Rita’s foundations by announcing that he was leaving her mother — and, by extension, her brother Alan and herself — to start a new life with another woman. In the years that followed, her relationship with her father understandably grew increasingly distant. It wasn’t until her mother’s death from cancer several years (while Rita was scoring terrific success at Fox News) that she decided that it was time to try and reconnect with her father and learn more about him. Part of her determination to learn about her dad stemmed from the fact that her mother never stopped loving him. Surely, there was more to learn.
What she discovered was that the story of Richard Cosby was much more than that of a man who decided to leave his family and begin a new life as he neared the age of 60. She would learn, through her father’s recollections and her own investigative work, that Richard Cosby was born Ryszard Kossobudzki and that, as a young man, her dad fought with the Polish Resistance against Nazi occupation. Though he never spoke about his past when Rita was growing up, he was, in fact, a hero during a time that truly tested men’s souls. And, like most heroes, he didn’t consider himself to be one.
The story of young Ryszard is truly epic. The story of Rita’s at-first-tentative reconnection with her dad is an intimate one. Rita manages to tell the two threads together in a very skillful and rivetingly honest manner. There’s a great movie waiting to be made from her book.
Ryszard’s story is one which celebrates the value of freedom by evoking a time when freedom was under attack by a truly evil government that sought to dominate others and even murder those it deemed unfit to live (particularly Jews). It’s a time we’d do well to remember today. And, believe me, the evil of the Nazis comes through in living color via her father’s story. And, while Rita’s dad downplayed his own courage, former Polish President Lech Walesa didn’t — saying of him that “One of Poland’s great treasures has now been found.” It’s also an inspiring story of a mother’s love and faith — as we learn how young Ryszard’s mother maintained a prayer vigil for her son and how that helped sustain him during his darkest hours.
As Richard and Rita’s story unfolds, we are witness to the healing power of forgiveness in a very natural and moving way. Everything about their relationship rings true.
Quiet Hero: Secrets from My Father’s Past is Highly recommended.
I should note that I know Rita from my days back at Fox News where I worked behind the scenes as an associate producer and writer. I recently ran into her again during a movie a screening and she was kind enough to have a copy of her book sent to me. I can report to you that the warm, friendly and genuine woman who shines through in the book is the same person I worked with. I have no prima donna stories to relate. She was tough and tenacious but she also warm and kind to those around her, definitely one of the nice people.
Here she is talking about her book in her own words:
Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11