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For its first 165 years, the United States never had 5-star generals. In fact, for many of those years, we didn’t even have a standing army. But World War II ended all that, thrusting the nation to the forefront of the world stage while thrusting its soldiers into the peacocklike costumes of Old World militaries. The only reason we managed to avoid giving our 5-star generals the irritating European rank of Field Marshall is because that would have made the first such general, George Marshall, “Field Marshall Marshall.” The History Channel, however, does the Europeans one better: Its new movie about America’s nine 5-star commanders is titled America’s 5-Star Heroes: Gods of War. Do your Memorial Day duties by worshipping them at 2 p.m. at the United States Navy Memorial’s Naval Heritage Center, 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Free. (202) 737-2300. (Michael Schaffer)