Michael Simeone Jr. '23 has never been a fan of tattoos, though his parents got matching ink that read "SM4L" – soul mate for life. Unfortunately, one of those lives was cut suddenly short this spring. Michael's now living his life to honor his dad, in honorable (and painful) ways.
Det. Michael Simeone, a 31-year police veteran, was killed in a motorcycle accident in April of this year. He recorded more than 400 arrests in his career on patrol in Queens and while investigating auto crimes. Hundreds of mourners attended his funeral, all remembering a man exactly the way NYPD Chaplain Msgr. Robert Romano described him.
"On the surface, he exuded an ex-cop and tough-biker exterior, but in reality he was the Pillsbury Dough Boy with a soft center. He looked like a tough guy, something out of Hells Angels, but when you got to know him, he was the nicest and sweetest guy in the world."
That's how Michael remembers his dad, too. A biker who gave everything of himself to his family, friends, and perfect strangers. Det. Simeone was a leader with the Knights of Columbus and a past president of the NYPD Anchor Club to assist police families. He committed his life to service, while on the job and on his days off. It was his example that inspired Siena's current student senate president.
"It's the reason I'm so involved, because of him. From Student Senate to being an orientation leader, he showed me how to make a difference in people's lives. He made every person he talked to feel like they mattered. He always turned something that could be sad into something joyful."
Michael and his family have tried to keep that in mind – turning sadness into joy – since Det. Simeone's death. They share funny stories about their dad and watch old family videos together. The Siena community has rallied around Michael as well.
"My fellow classmates just come up and give me hugs. Friends and professors tell me I'm doing well and staying strong. Also, I got a card from President Gibson. I was so surprised the president thought to do that. It meant a lot to my mom, too."
Since Det. Simeone's passing, tributes have come from everywhere. A memorial plaque was erected at the Montauk Lighthouse, Michael's parents' favorite place to visit. HOG (Harley Owners Group) created a patch in Det. Simeone's honor, and they're planning a tribute ride in his memory this December. As for Michael, he's chosen a more personal and permanent way to honor his dad. Plus, he believes he has the chance to represent his dad, and all his goodness, every single day.
"I plan to be a history teacher, hopefully 8th or 9th grade. I know my dad was very proud of me. He would tell his friends about his son who's the student senate president and about to get his degree. All of the tributes have been great, but I was very aware of how amazing he was when he was alive. I could see the impact he made in people's lives. I try to live that way too."
Michael Simeone '23
Like Senior, Like Junior
Ink was a love language for Det. Simeone. Most of his many tattoos were tributes to loved ones. The lighthouse on one shoulder was a symbol for his mom; the ship churning through the water down his opposite arm represented his dad (who served in the Navy). When Michael was born, Det. Simeone used blank space on one shoulder to tattoo an image of King Arthur presenting Sir Lancelot with a sword. The tattoo symbolized the passing of Det. Simeone's name to his first born son, his junior. Junior grew to appreciate the gesture, but tattoos were not his thing.
"I hate needles."
A few weeks after Michael lost his dad, though, he decided to honor him in the same way (and in the same place) his dad honored him. But instead of a knight, Michael had his dad's badge permanently emblazoned on his shoulder.
"It took two hours, and it felt so long. But as I was getting it, and trying not to think about the pain, I just imagined my dad right there with me, laughing at me!"