Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol 6, No. 5. May 5, 1943
On the 25th of this month all over New Zealand gatherings will have been held to remember those who have their lives in the Great War; [unclear: futile] prayers will have been recited, vague and sentimental remarks made about the glory of a sacrifice which the years since 1918 have proved utterly fruitless. Whatever little point or value Anzac Day celebrations may once have had, they have now become an empty farce and excuse for military display—a subtle glorification of war.
Phrases such as: "They fell with their faces to the foe," "fallen in the cause of the free," have now a ghastly significance, of which the pompous town clerks and religlous men who utter them are apparently unaware. They have said that "nothing will do more to prevent war than a constant reminder of the horror and failure of the last." This attitude, as it is obviously meant to do, directs our thoughts away from present realities, with the display of an ostentatious emotion. A reminder of the last war is not inspiring or splendid, but humiliating and will never affect one [unclear: iota] the result of this one. Like much present day religious teaching, Anzac Day and simliar celebrations show us an easy way out; they save us from any positive contribution towards winning the war by rousing in us an easy bourgeois sentimentality.
On many of the War Memorials at whose shrine Anzac Day celebrations often culminate, the words are inscribed, "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori." Surely it is a strange thing to be still paying respect to the ideal of an age which we believe we have progressed beyond. Extreme nationalism, and the belief it engendered that the noblest action one could perform for one's country was to die for it, have been merely a phase. We have, to some extent at least, passed that phase, and believe rather that to live and work is nobler than to die. Anzac Day celebration is the expression of homage to a primitive and out-dated conception; that we should still be paying that homage seems to me an admission of weakness in our society and in ourselves as individuals.