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Families outraged by Super Bowl ad evoking 9/11 with burning Twin Towers

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NEW YORK -- While there were many memorable ads that aired during Sunday night’s Super Bowl, there was one that stuck out for all the wrong reasons.

The ad was for Colonial Williamsburg that used a montage of American history to try to persuade viewers to visit its site.

What caught some off guard was when images of the 9/11 attacks emerged without warning.

“When you reflect upon our sacrifices, our breakthroughs and yes our heartbreaks,” narrator Tom Brokaw says in the 60-second ad.

The burning Twin Towers of the World Trade Center – which refers to our heartbreaks – are shown in reverse, assembling back into place.

The imagery angered some viewers who took to Twitter, calling it “distasteful.”

“It was very difficult to watch,” Patricia Reilly told PIX11 News. Reilly lost her sister Lorraine Lee during the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

“It’s just too close in history to watch that and not have real pain and real impact from having to see those images.”

Despite the criticism - which was widely relegated to Twitter – Colonial Williamsburg is standing by the ad, saying in a statement that the reverse concept was meant to “walk viewers backwards through time” to recognize the nation’s accomplishments and heartbreaks.

A spokesperson added, “the past must be remembered if we are to succeed as a nation.”

“If you’re going to depict 9/11, there are so many things that are powerful and inspiring about 9/11,” Reilly said. “The response of New Yorker to New Yorker, the world to the people of New York, showing people at the candle light vigils, the memorial.”

According to a spokesperson for Colonial Williamsburg, their ad is currently trending “positively” on Facebook where an overwhelming majority deem the ad appropriate.