SPENCERVILLE — Nathan Shaffer looks over his shoulder at the Spencerville Area Veterans Memorial Park.
The mixture of monuments and bricks in Spencerville is breathtaking on its own. It’s a reverent place, easy to contemplate the horrors of wars and the sacrifices of the men who served in them.
“You should see it at night,” Shaffer said. “At night, it’s absolutely beautiful.”
That’s where Shaffer’s background as a retired electrician at Ford Motor Co. came in handy He helped install and run the conduit to it. He helped install the 21 ballards, symbolic of the 21-gun salute for a fallen soldier.
Shaffer, one of the eight local winners of the Jefferson Awards for Public Service, said he felt called to help with the project. He served in Vietnam with the Army for three years. He then served in the National Guard for three years before spending three years in the Army Reserves.
“We knew we had a lot of electrical work to be done,” George Cox, who nominated Shaffer for the award, said. “When Nate agreed to help us, it was a big weight lifted from our shoulders, and the park committee knew we had the right man to help as we built our Veterans Park.”
He earned some notoriety in recent years as he tracked down, brought back from Arizona and restored the helicopter he flew during the war. He dreamed of keeping it Spencerville but is proud to have it be at the Motts Military Museum.
He stays active in the local military community, working with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6772 in Spencerville. He helps maintain the building and helps with dinners. He enjoys volunteering with his wife, Tiz, who is just as involved as he is, Cox said.
“If I have the skills and the time, I feel good about volunteering. I like volunteering, and I always have,” Shaffer said.
He enjoys bringing his two grown children or one of his six grandchildren through the park, he said. It’s a park he hopes the community appreciates.
“We wanted to make it a learning experience,” he said, “where people could look it up and read on these. They can see exactly where it’s at, and what happened there.”