The headline on Thursday’s front page story “Friday Fireworks Show in Grantsville to celebrate 9/11” drew some discussion and criticism for the use of the word “celebrate.”
I could argue for the choice of “celebrate,” in the headline from the Merriam-Webster definition “to honor (an occasion, such as a holiday) especially by solemn ceremonies or by refraining from ordinary business, example: The nation celebrates Memorial Day.”
But to be honest, while I was writing the caption for the photo above the story, I initially wrote “celebrate” in the caption, but then I felt uneasy because we usually associate “celebrate” with something joyous and happy, even when we hold a “celebration of life” after somebody we love passes away. So I backspaced over the word “celebrate” and replaced it with “remember” in the caption.
And after reading the Merriam-Webster definition and example, the thought of “celebrating” Memorial Day made me uneasy too. The word “observe” seems better fitting for Memorial Day.
Then I missed the mark when it came to the headline.
Words have meaning. Choosing the right words for a headline can be tricky as you try to squeeze as much as you can into the space available, stay accurate, and not sensationalize. Other people may have seen the headline before it went to print, but I, as editor, am solely responsible.
I appreciate those that have defended the headline, but in the end “celebrate” was not the best word. We should always use the best words.
The headline of the online version of the story has been updated to read “Friday Fireworks Show in Grantsville to remember 9/11,” because we should never forget 9/11.