December 6, 2013
Duluth News Tribune
Veterans dinner marks opening of Amatuzio Research Center
By Alysee Shelton
The stories of courageous veterans filled the room as these bands of brothers shared their stories. One shared how his life was almost cut short while serving in Iraq, while another talked about his trauma and all the friends he lost coming out of service.
“Going in we are nervous, scared, worried, you name it,” said Dusty Oosten, who served as an active duty solider in the 1980s. “However, coming out of that experience we are much stronger men.”
These were the kinds of experiences organizers sought to share by inviting the public to Thursday’s annual Veterans Remembrance Dinner at the Depot’s Veterans’ Memorial Hall.
Guests were invited to listen to keynote speaker Col. Penny Dieryck, see a presentation of the Mike Colalillo Medal of Honor Scholarship and eat a gourmet dinner prepared by the Arrowhead Professional Chefs Association.
“People forget what veterans do after they take off their uniforms,” said Dwight Nelson, program manager at the Veterans’ Memorial Hall. “They still continue to serve the country, state and local communities.”
This dinner is the main fundraiser the Memorial Hall hosts each year. The event honors what veterans did during their service and what they did after.
Remembrance events like these allow veterans to share their story and recollect on their experience.
“War is hell,” said Chris Roemhildt, who served twice in the Iraq war. “We have soldiers out here dying for their country. It’s kind of a slap in the face when a lot of people still don’t realize war is going on this very moment.”
Oosten said active duty completely changed his life.
“Trying to transition back into a civilian after active duty was difficult because I felt as if I lost my identity,” Oosten said. “Even though it was hard at first, it was a good experience overall.”
In addition to honoring veterans, this year’s event was also the grand opening of the new Albert J. Amatuzio Research Center to recognize Amatuzio for making the center possible. The research center features photographs, journals, stories and biographies of veterans from Northeastern Minnesota who served this nation from the Civil War through the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.
“We will now be able to catalog archives and environmental storage,” Nelson said. “This center will be the first of its kind in Duluth.”
These yearly appreciation dinners and events mean a great deal to many local veterans. They hope this will encourage the public to come to more of these types of events.
“Remembrance is nice” Oosten said. “It means a lot when the community can come together and organize events or projects to help and recognize veterans.”
Steve Saari, who served in the Air Force active duty from 1983-2005, agreed with Oosten.
“These remembrance dinners are wonderful,” Saari said. “I think it’s important for the public to attend these events so we can continue to pass history on from generation to generation.”