Denfeld News

May 31, 2010
Duluth News Tribune

For past 50 years, Duluth woman has led a parade
By Mark Stodghill

A few years ago, vandals knocked a concrete eagle from a monument in a military veterans’ area of Oneota Cemetery in Duluth. Rosemary Stratioti led an effort to restore the monument honoring veterans.

Combat-wounded Vietnam Marine veteran Brad Bennett of Duluth related that story in driving home the point that Stratioti has always looked out for — and helped honor — our country’s military veterans.

“She has been just a peach of a lady in keeping the real memory of what Memorial Day is all about alive,” Bennett said. “She has always been there for veterans. Always.”

And she’ll be there again today for the 50th straight year as the organizer of the annual Memorial Day parade in West Duluth.

Stratioti, 79 and a 1948 graduate of Denfeld High School, thinks it’s her duty. Her late father, Leo Tuzinski, was an Army veteran of World War I.

Her late husband, Joseph, was a Navy veteran of World War II. When the West Duluth American Legion auxiliary president asked Stratioti to take over one year’s planning of the Memorial Day parade, Stratioti said: “Yeah, I’ll help you out. Well, I’m still helping out 50 years later,” she said and laughed from the living room of her Denfeld neighborhood home Sunday afternoon.

Today she will be riding in the parade behind her favorite people — active military men and women in uniform.

“To me, to see those soldiers marching, the active military is the most beautiful thing that I ever saw, and thank God they are here,” she said.

Stratioti also takes it upon herself to talk to youth about what the real meaning of Memorial Day is.

“I remember a time about this time of year when I asked this little boy — a nice little fella — ‘By the way, sonny. What does Memorial Day mean to you.’ He said, ‘It’s a day off from school.’ I thought, ‘Oh, boy, what kind of education are you getting?’”

Roberta Wellik is secretary of the Memorial Day parade committee. She helped arrange the groups that will be taking part in the parade today — including the Marshall and Denfeld bands and Denfeld dance line as well as military honor guards.

Wellik said Stratioti is patriotic year-round. “She’s always trying to inform the schools about the proper etiquette of the flag and to have children know that the real meaning of Memorial Day is not just another day off from school.”

What does Rosemary want the public to remember today?

“If it wasn’t for the soldiers who gave their lives for you and me, we
wouldn’t be here today,” she said. “And if we were, I would say we would be speaking German or Japanese or another foreign language.”

The parade starts at 12:30 p.m. at 59th Avenue West and Grand Avenue and turns onto 46th Avenue West before ending at Public Schools Stadium. A service follows the parade.

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