May 26, 2017
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Local students go to Washington, D.C. in 1966

By: Irene Hilsendager
February 10, 2017
Did You Know?

The chance to spend the summer working in Congressman Don H. Clausen’s Washington, D. C. office and providing a hectic but educational summer was given to Donna Benedetti, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gene Benedetti of Cotati, and Gene Musser, son of Dr. and Mrs. Wayne E. Musser of Petaluma.

As interns in Rep. Clausen’s office, the two took park part in the daily operations of the Congressional office. In addition to having the opportunity to view the workings of Congress, they attended numerous briefings by Congressional leaders and government officials, including a talk by President Lyndon B. Johnson on the grounds of the Washington Monument and a party at the Nationalist Chinese Embassy.

They also attended major portions of the House of Representatives debate on the Civil Rights Act of 1966 and were on hand for the House Committee on un-American Activities hearings on anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, which were held in the same building as Congressman Clausen’s office.

Donna, whose father is manager of the Petaluma Cooperative Creamery, is a recent graduate of St. Vincent High School and has tentative plans to enter social work such as the Peace Corps or VISTA.

“I have really enjoyed and benefited from this summer’s experience,” she said. “I have a far clearer picture of our government at work and an insight one can only get from working in such an atmosphere.”

Gene plans to return to the University of California, Berkeley.

“My opportunity to serve Mr. Clausen as a summer intern has provided me with a chance to observe closely the workings of the Congress-an experience that has been both educational and enjoyable,” he said.

Clausen initiated the summer intern program in 1963 to give students from the First Congressional District the experience in government and politics.

“The wealth of historical background and the day to day operations of the Federal government, seen as they are from the inside of a Congressional office, can provide exceptional experience for students,” he said.

I am taking this means to stimulate interest among the young people of my district. I have always been a great believer in giving young people a chance to be exposed to the inner workings of government and business at an early stage in their lives.

“The leadership of tomorrow will come from this valuable resource,” Clausen said.


Irene Hilsendager’s history column each weeks touches on certain moments in the history of Cotati, Rohnert Park and Penngrove.