Colonial Williamsburg stands by Super Bowl ad featuring burning Twin Towers

The last thing Americans expected to see during the Super Bowl game was a reminder of one of the darkest moments in the nation’s history.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation ran a commercial showing images of major moments in American history in reverse during Sunday’s game to promote the Virginia tourist attraction that shocked and offended many viewers.

The group used images of one of the Twin Towers that collapsed on 9/11 going back up while the voice over, done by Tom Brokaw, recounted “our heartbreaks.”

Social media users were outraged at the Foundation for using the image but the group stood by its commercial.

In a statement released Sunday night, the Foundation wrote:

In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, Colonial Williamsburg released an extended online version of its advertisement through its various social media channels. The ad garnered thousands of likes and shares alongside hundreds of positive comments within the hour. Youtube reviews alone ran 10-1 in favor of the ad. Its popularity, and the discussion of the events depicted in the ad, led to the conversation “trending” on Facebook.

We understand and respect that some of the images depicted in the ad are jarring. However, the small data point of people who objected to some of the imagery in the ad does not represent the total viewership. Not even close. We have received an outpouring of support on social media for the ad and its simple, powerful message: All that is past is prologue. Our ad is meant to walk viewers backwards through time, challenging them to reflect on how our collective history and struggles shape who we are as Americans today. We cannot forget our sacrifices or our tragedies even as we celebrate our accomplishments. Colonial Williamsburg does not shy away from these difficult moments in our history because they have made us who we are just as surely as our many triumphs.

Carmine Sabia


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