Like millions before him, Carlos Bencosme immigrated to the United States in 2002.
Now a resident of East New York, Brooklyn, Bencosme, who came from the Dominican Republic, began work two months ago as a porter in the Plymouth House East apartment building at 86-11 151 Ave. in Lindenwood. He quickly became well-known and well-liked among the building’s residents.
Last week, resident Dominick Papa invited him into his apartment for coffee and found out Bencosme was becoming an American citizen.
“He told me what he really wanted to do first as an American citizen is raise the flag,” Papa explained.
Papa and his neighbors gave him the opportunity on Thursday. On his first full day as an American citizen, Bencosme was joined by over a dozen residents of Plymouth House East and neighboring buildings and raised the flag onto the flagpole that rises above the parking lot between the buildings.
With one of Papa’s neighbors playing patriotic tunes like “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Stars and Stripes Forever” from his car stereo, Papa guided Bencosme in correct flag etiquette and watched as the smiling new American looked up into the sky and saw the flag billowing in the early afternoon breeze.
“It’s something very nice,” Bencosme said of his citizenship. “It feels different to be a citizen.”
Bencosme learned how to raise the flag and how to set it to half-mast, as every flag was ordered to be because of the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya on Sept. 11.
“You feel very proud when you watch the flag go up,” he said.
After the ceremony, Bencosme listened as his fellow Americans argued over doing a very American thing — voting in the primary election held that day.