May 31, 2010
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
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
“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
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
“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
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