These days, we all need to learn resilience.
This is my dad and I in the mid 1980s. Times were tough for our family:
To make ends meet, my mom would wake up at 4am and head into the Bronx to work at a nursing home every day. Sometimes she took me with her…
Meanwhile, we lived in a ratty old house in NJ and my dad decided to fix it up by himself thinking he might rent half it out:
The house was in such bad shape it was almost condemned.
My dad solicited the help of my grandfather, James O’Keefe Senior, to perform a miracle.
My grandfather was dyslexic but could build things out of nothing with scrap materials salvaged from the side of the road. So that’s what he did:
The three of us began working when I was 5. In the beginning, I would just hand them tools:
My father was, to this day, the hardest working man I’ve ever met. People in town said things couldn’t be done — and he either found a way or he engineered a way.
He did everything himself and was intensely focused and driven to get the job done — so much so we didn’t make small talk while working.
As I got slightly older each year, I was forced to do more than hand them tools.
My grandfather would say to me, “You see, Irish,” as I stuck my arm down a disgusting pipe or shoveled dirt.
“You must do what it takes to survive.”
I didn’t understand.
He would monitor each swipe of a paintbrush and supervise me scraping 100 year old wallpaper off a wall…
It was dirty work every weekend and some nights after school.
I spent some of the time dancing around and daydreaming.
When the house was finished, it was such an impressive achievement the State of New Jersey gave my parents an award:
Later on, a house fire came and destroyed most of what we spent so long building and restoring:
People in town, again, said the house couldn’t be saved.
My grandfather told my father, “It’ll be ok, we’ll bring it back.” He moved in with us and commenced work:
For the next two years, my sister, my mother, and my father went back to work doing much of the same work all over again.
My grandfather effectively never retired. He lived at home in the attic and stayed by my dad’s side working on ladders and putting up Sheetrock until his stroke at 80.
At 25, I was arrested by the FBI, and stood falsely accused. A political prisoner for the investigation into ACORN.
Released from jail, I spent three years on federal probation.
Confined in NJ under federal supervision, with no organization, and no money, I needed a place to land.
The carriage house garage that was the thing that began my life, with my arm down sewage pipes and scraping off paint chips…
It became the first Project Veritas Office. Unable to travel, I shipped the cameras to others…
Project Veritas was born and expanded into a new building in 2015.
My sister was the architect:
And while the new office was destroyed in a flood in 2021…
…life has taught me this is just the beginning…
RESILIENCE: pass it on…
James O’Keefe III
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