23 May 2013 4:30 AM, PDT | PEOPLE.com | See recent PEOPLE.com news »

Earl Morse had no idea that a casual question would end up launching him on a life-changing crusade. It was December 2004, and the physician assistant was chatting with some World War II veteran patients when the subject turned to the memorial in their honor that had just opened the previous spring in Washington, D.C. "I said to them, 'Have you been to see your new memorial?' " says Morse, 54, who was working at an outpatient clinic for veterans in Chillicothe, Ohio. "Sadly, none of them had been," says Morse, who still works as a full-time Pa for the Va and lives in Enon, »

- Anne Lang and Nicole Weisensee Egan

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