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Archived Online Discussion
Topic: Quiet Hero: Secrets from My Father's Past
Date: 5-6 pm (ET)
on Thursday, July 29, 2010
Rita Cosby
Veteran news correspondent
Online Discussion Moderator:
Tonight, the Knights of Columbus is honored to welcome TV host, news correspondent, and bestselling author Rita Cosby for a discussion of her latest book Quiet Hero, a memoir of her father experience as a Polish resistance fighter during WWII, and her own personal journey to discover his past. Rita will be happy to answer questions about her book. 

Joe A.
I read a review and it really moved me. I think everyone should make an attempt to get to know their dad better before it's too late. You will never regret a final handshake or hug. What advice would you give to those who are estranged from their fathers or never knew them?
Rita Cosby:

I am so thrilled to be with all of you. Joe A, I love your question. I hope anyone who is estranged from their father will forget pride, who called who last, and reach out and get to know them while they can. If their dad has passed, try to learn about him from other family members, friends, records; you'll be surprised what you'll find. Making the connection for me with my dad has been the greatest thing in my life.

Carl & Patricia Filipiak
Carolina Beach, NC USA
We had the privilege of visiting Poland before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall and freedom in Poland. We were both emotionally moved by your father's story. What was his reaction to the tragic death of President Lech Kaczynski? Also, did you have the opportunity to visit the town of Lodz? Thank you for sharing your story!
Rita Cosby:

One of the greatest days of my life was when my father got a hero's welcome from the President at his Palace in Warsaw. His father and my father were in the same Resistance unit for a brief time. Both my father and I were devastated by the President's tragic death.
We did not get to Lodz during our trip last November. But in my book I describe how my father and hundreds of others on his railcar thought they were all going to be executed in Lodz during the war. I hope some day to see this city.

Chris Kennedy
Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
You referred in several places to the fact that your father was not religious. Poland is viewed today as a very religious place. In your research, apart from your father, do you know what role faith played in the Polish resistance?
Rita Cosby:
Many in the Resistance were devout Catholics and prayed before military strikes. My father's mother even kept a hidden altar in her bombed out home where she prayed for my father every day. She also gave him a pendant of the black madonna which he wore around his neck on a string during the Uprising and while he was in POW camp. I was so moved when I saw that pendant recently.

New York, New York, USA
Please share my most respectful admiration with your heroic father. Forgive me If I missed it, but were you able to find out what happened to you dear father's own father during and after the war?
Rita Cosby:

His parents were able to get to their summer home outside Warsaw, but my father never saw them after the war. He was not able to come back to Poland after the war because it was controlled by Communists, and they hated Polish Resistance fighters, and often killed and tortured them. My father was able to visit their graves for the first time when we went back in November 2009. He broke down in tears.

Scott Read
Roswell, GA, USA
Ms. Cosby, thank you to you and your father for such an inspirational retelling of your father's experiences during WWII. In the book you described how your dad overcame tremendous obstacles to survive a situation that hopefully the world will never see again and 99 plus percent will never have to experience. In that light, can you please tell us, in your day-to-day what are the biggest obstacles that you must overcome and how does the lessons that your father taught you help?
Rita Cosby:
I think learning about my father's experiences and the incredible hardships he and his comrades endured, puts everything in my life in perspective. Any complaint I have from here on out, is small. And everyday we are alive and can help others is a blessing.

Former State Warden Robert B. Camilleri
Honolulu, Hawaii
What do you think is the reason men are reluctant to discuss their war experiences?
Rita Cosby:
I think Robert that it's often too painful to revisit emotionally, and I also think many, like my dad, feel what they did was small compared to others. They always feel someone else was the hero and deserves the credit. True heroes, I believe like my father, alway believe everyone else deserves the praise but them. Real heroes are humble and great role models. That's why I called my book "Quiet Hero: Secrets From My Father's Past."

Chris Kennedy
Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
On Page 81 (start of Chapter 7) you raise the question if other children know much about their parent's early time "pre-me". Have you received feedback from readers who have strengthened their bond with their parents after reading your book?
Rita Cosby:
I have received so many wonderful notes and e-mails from people who have reconnected with their parents or grandparents as a result of Quiet Hero. I am so touched to see how many lives have already been affected by this book.

John P
It seems every family has its secrets. It's good yours was a positive one. Do you think everyone should try to find out those secrets in their own families? Could there be a negative side?
Rita Cosby:
There could be some difficult secrets in someone's past. But I think if the person searching is old enough, knowledge is power, and knowing who your father or loved one truly was, gives comfort and resolution for the most part. There is a sense of feeling complete.

Fabian Hernandez
Brooklyn, NY
Dear Rita:

Thank you for your book and especially your father's service. Do you feel there is a little bit of historical amnesia surrounding the Warsaw uprising and these incredible stories of resistance in the U.S.? You never hear too much about this particular chapter of WWII.
Rita Cosby:
Sadly many in the U.S. don't know a lot about the Warsaw Uprising, and in part because few Uprisers have or could share their stories. I hope my book educates many about this incredibly heroic part of history.

George Rollins
Morrisville, Pa
Has the experience uncovering your father's past changed you as a journalist? as a person?
Rita Cosby:
I feel I will be much more sympathetic when someone says they cannot share their story for whatever reason. I have also learned that often the greatest heroes are everyday heroes, a father, a neighbor, not someone with a big title or the media spotlight. Fathers can be the most amazing role models of all.

Debra Moenar
Burbank, CA
I was shocked by the brutality of your father's story. How did you as well as your father deal with uncovering such painful wounds?
Rita Cosby:
Debra, there were times my father and I both broke down in tears, especially when we visited places in Poland where he lost so many comrades. But I was also happy to see him release 65 years of emotion that he had never shown before. He has said after going to Poland with me, he is a changed man and feels he can now participate in life more. The end result was really beautiful.

Edward Swick
Hartford, CT
Rita: How have your interviews with your father changed your view of war? How does he view war now, especially American involvement in the middle east, in the light of his experiences?
Rita Cosby:
This has made me have even more respect for our military men and women.. and their families. I think it's made me realize the tremendous courage it takes to fight a brutal enemy and the sacrifices our troops make and their families.
My father was saved by U.S. troops, and he counts his blessings he's an American. He also feels that our men and women must be fully prepared and equipped when they are sent off to war, and have our full support. That is why a portion of the proceeds from the book Quiet Hero are going to not only two important museums in Poland, but also to the USO to help wounded soldiers and their families.

Ashley Westmore
Falls Church, VA
Your book was incredible. What's next for you? Do you have any future titles planned?
Rita Cosby:
Ashley, we are also working on a documentary about the book to educate young people, and in the fall, my father and I are going to Poland when the book will be published in Polish, so we are so thrilled about that too.

Online Discussion Moderator:

The Knights of Columbus would like to thank you for participating in this online discussion.  We hope you've enjoyed the conversation with Rita Cosby on this most fascinating topic and we would like to extend a very special thanks to Rita for joining us.

We encourage you to join us for next month's discussion when we host historian Bradley Birzer to talk about his new book, "American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll."   In "American Cicero," Birzer resurrects the accomplishments and legacy of Charles Carroll, a leading Founding Father who overcame intense religious prejudice to become the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence. 

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