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April 9, 2012

Titanic museums to mark anniversary of sinking

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titanic museums in the Smoky Mountains and Branson, Mo., have told the ship's story to 7 million visitors in the past six years. Now the attractions are marking the Titanic centennial by sponsoring a Coast Guard cutter to take 1.5 million rose petals to the North Atlantic site where the ship sank 100 years ago.

The museums also will have special ceremonies April 14 in Tennessee and Missouri to commemorate the anniversary.

The flowers will be dropped at the location to memorialize the victims on the luxury liner, which sank April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg. More than 1,500 of the 2,200 on board died.

The cutter will leave Boston April 10 and join several commercial cruises in the area for the occasion. The museum-sponsored trip is not open to the public.

"It's a memorial, and we're just going to do the ceremony," said Rick Laney, a spokesman for the museums, who'll be on board. "We'll have a priest, pastor and rabbi along."

Laney, of Knoxville, is not worried about bad weather or danger that befell the Titanic a century ago.

"I'll be in the hands of the Coast Guard," he said. "The capable hands of guys out there all the time."

The museums, in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and Missouri's country music-oriented resort town of Branson, are to conclude activities April 14 with a symbolic re-enactment of the launching of Titanic's distress flares and the lighting of a memorial flame at the bow of the ship.

John Joslyn, co-owner of both museums, said the ceremonies "will pay tribute to the courage of the rescuers and survivors, respect the sacrifice so many made so that others might live, and honor the memory of all those aboard."

Joslyn was co-leader of the first private expedition to visit the ship's resting place on the ocean floor. Other expeditions also have been conducted, including one by the director of the "Titanic" movie, James Cameron.

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