Add To Favorites

Drive-by birthday celebration honors retired veteran

Muskogee Phoenix - 1/6/2021

Jan. 6—Retired Army Lt. Col. Fred Bliss sang along when musicians played military tunes Tuesday afternoon.

The music was part of an outdoor salute for the veteran's 90th birthday.

Bliss, a 1955 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, waved from Eastgate Village Retirement Center's sidewalk as a dozen vehicles passed by. Drivers honked. Passengers waved. American flags and congratulatory signs adorned the vehicles.

"This is wonderful," Bliss said. "It's beyond the call of duty to get out in this cold air."

Bliss sat bundled up in blankets. Family members and Eastgate staff wore protective face masks as they surrounded him.

A band featuring six Muskogee High School drummers and Muskogee Community Band musicians played "The Army Goes Rolling Along," "America the Beautiful" and songs of the armed forces. They also played the Muskogee and Tahlequah High School fight songs, which are the same tune.

"It was terrific," Bliss said.

Bliss grew up in Tahlequah and settled in Muskogee after retiring from the Army. He owned a concrete business.

His daughter, Donna Bliss, waved to the passing vehicles. She had assembled the caravan.

"It just means everything," she said. "First for him turning 90. But then to have this."

She said about a dozen vehicles showed up, accompanied by a police escort.

"And the Roughers, they made it," she said, referring to the musicians.

Elada Kirk and Kim Stotts put American flags on their sport utility vehicle. Kirk recalled growing up with him in Tahlequah.

"He's a special person," Kirk said. "We wanted to do something special for him."


(c)2021 the Muskogee Phoenix (Muskogee, Okla.)

Visit the Muskogee Phoenix (Muskogee, Okla.) at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.