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Afternoon Note

Freedom Isnít Free

By Charles Payne, CEO & Principal Analyst
9/11/2023 1:37 PM

On 9-11, 343 firefighters and 71 law enforcement died at the World Trade Center – saving lives even as they surely know theirs were doomed.

The scenes are vivid in my mind because I worked in that neighborhood for decades.  My office was four blocks away, and my gym was so close, it was taped off as part for the crime scene.

I’m not sure why, but this year hit me harder than recent years.

I was greeted by several firefighters – some retired and some still serving.

There is a small park and memorial across the street from the firehouse, so I walked over to get positioned for the event.

Toward the end of the ceremony, a bell was rung for each firefighter from that house that perished that day saving lives.

Each name read was aloud and then the bell.

The last name read was Christopher Santora who was a probationary firefighter at that time.

Christopher was 23 years old when he died.

Christopher was also a teacher. He worked in Queens in both the elementary and middle school level. He loved American History. He was very proud that he was an American. He wanted everyone that he knew to be proud of his country. He majored in History at Queens College. He graduated in January 2000.

A tribute to Christopher underscored his sense of humor‚ his laughter‚ his honesty‚ his love of sports‚ his favorite team – the Toronto Blue Jays‚ his patriotism and his beautiful smile.

Christopher’s Queens Community honored him with a street naming and an early childhood school in the community where he taught. His family has established an educational scholarship‚ which provides scholarships for students and educational materials for youths.

I met the parents of Christopher Alexander Santora: his mom Maureen and father Al.

They were such humble people, but they are fighters, and they told me there is a lot to be done, still.

They are especially upset that the national 9-11 memorial in lower Manhattan – the scene of the attack is not really a national memorial.

They have no idea why this is but are determined to get that designation.

I think it’s something we could all get around.  But we have to be honest. As I walked away with tears in my eyes, 50- steps away, people were outside eating their avocado toast completely oblivious to what was going on down the block.

But I’m not upset with them.

I learned that heroes like Christopher, and all those first responders, and soldiers, and sailors, do their job so we can have the privilege of being oblivious.  They don’t ask for anything, as our freedom and safety is their reward.

God Bless the men and women that remind us freedom isn’t free.

Back on Wall Street

The major indices are off their highs but still in positive territory.   Investors are waiting on some key data out this week, including retail sales.  Tech is faring well today as Telsa (TSLA) is now up about 8% on its recent upgrade.  Qualcomm (QCOM) is up 4% on news Apple (AAPL) plans to use QCOM’s chips for their smartphones till 2026. Meta is also benefiting from the latest AI craze and is up 2.5% on reports it is working on a new AI model. 

Consumer Discretionary is the best performing sector today, while Energy is the worst performer.

A green and red pie chartDescription automatically generated

Breath is positive but new lows on the Nasdaq are still mounting.

Market Breadth









New Highs



New Lows



Up Volume

940.01 million

1.48 billion

Down Volume

519.31 million

850.40 million

On the economic front, expectation for inflation in the US rose 3.6% in August, the first increase in 5 months. 

A graph of a number of barsDescription automatically generated with medium confidence

Year-ahead price growth expectations:

The five-year horizon for median inflation expectations also increased by 0.1% to 3%, while the three-year expectations declined by 0.1% to 2.8%.


Hey Charles, the story you told about Christopher Santora really made me think. I've tried to imagine a room with 414 (343 + 71) people all dying at the same time while doing their selfless jobs. Laying down your life for a friend is amazing but doing so for strangers is beyond imagination.

James Allen Fine on 9/11/2023 2:31:54 PM
Sharing your personal experience today re 9/11 was very meaningful...thank you and bravo for capturing the today's meaning so poignantly.

Susan P. Pevear, CFA on 9/11/2023 2:41:08 PM
Charles, your comments on 9/11 were terrific. If I still lived up there, I'd have gladly joined you at the ceremony. I'm definitely not one of the oblivious. Keep up the great work....and thanks.

neil bradie on 9/11/2023 3:07:37 PM
Best commentary ever. You are the best Charles!

peter quinn on 9/12/2023 4:51:14 PM

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