Coming to Normandy’s beaches where U.S. soldiers landed is like a pilgrimage for some Americans. This is a place where memories flow in.
CBS correspondent Rita Cosby visited Normandy to pay respect during the D-Day commemorations. Until her 35th birthday, Cosby never knew her father had lived through WWII and was part of the resistance against the Nazis. She told NTD, “Every time I see the U.S. army, ‘Thank You’ just feels so hollow. It feel like it’s not enough. To be here, and to see the role they play, freeing France, Poland and also others countries around the world, I feel very emotional; this will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
As a child, she saw his body covered in scars. “I asked my Mother, ‘What happened to my father, what happened to Dad?’ And she said, ‘Your father went through a tough time growing up, we don’t talk about it.’ And the door was closed for decades,” Cosby said.
In Nazi-occupied Poland, just surviving was a struggle. “They were fighting with molotov cocktails and sticks. They didn’t really have any weapons, they had to kill a German to get a weapon, they had to kill a German to get clothes. And they were fighting with bare bones, it was a real David and Goliath fight,” Cosby told NTD.
But some stood up against the occupation. Against all odds, Cosby’s father made it out alive, escaping from a prisoner camp. Six feet tall, he weighed just 90 pounds at the time.
“And there they are, he’s with a dozen Polish POW like him. They escaped, they are in Germany, they absolutely would have been killed on site. So they were walking at night time, and suddenly a plane came by. The plane threw something out, and they were hiding, thinking “Ok, this is a grenade, this is the end of the line, we’re about to be killed—and suddenly they realized. They look up, they see a star, and they realize it’s an American plane, not a German plane. And what was thrown out? It was chocolate bars with a red ribbon saying: “Welcome! It’s safe to walk during daytime. There are no troops between you and our American lines. Go west, you have 15 miles to walk and you are free.”
Learning the truth changed Rita’s life and the way she looks at war heroes.
“My father also felt guilty that he was the one who survived when so many of his comrades did not. And I think the real heroes don’t talk about what they saw, because it was so painful, so emotional,” she added. She tells her father’s story in the critically-acclaimed memoir and best-seller “Quiet Hero.”
Ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising in August, President Trump yesterday paid tribute to the Polish soldiers who fought during the war, and made special mention of Rita’s father.
“Rita, I have to say your father’s story filled our hearts with gratitude for the Polish and Americans who stare down evil. I just want to thank you, I’ve known her for so long, I had no idea,” President Trump said.