THE BRONX - One Sept. 11 first responder says the attack's anniversary never gets any easier, even nine years down the line.

Gabriele Pacino, of Morris Park, says his plumbers union asked for volunteers to help with Ground Zero clean-up efforts the day after the towers fell. He says he didn't think twice.

"This country was good to me," said Pacino, who immigrated to the United States at age 14. "They told us to raise our hands, whoever wanted to go."

Pacino says he spent only a week in Lower Manhattan, but can no longer work because of various health problems. "I spent seven years going to psychologists," he said.

He says he feels "freer" on this year's anniversary, and would not hesitate to help out again.