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July 4th, 2020 In Chicago: Patriotism, Protests, And An Ongoing Pandemic

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Life as we know it has changed greatly since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and of course, holidays are no exception.

North Avenue Beach is typically packed with people the 4th of July holiday weekend. As CBS 2's Marissa Parra reported, such was not the case this year.

Beaches were empty this 4th of July, thanks in part to police and lifeguards who instead of guarding the water, were guarding the sand for people who tried to sneak a dip.

We drove around the city Saturday trying to get a chance of what 4th of July 2020 looks like, and in the context of the last few weeks, it depends on whom you ask.

If you close your eyes, it may sounds like the Fourth of July. But the musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra played John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" in masks to an audience in blades of grass in front of a home, and the flag flies high above a city still facing a pandemic – on a day meant to celebrate America and freedom.

"For me it means America is the best country of all time," said Ben Ruffcorn. "No one is close. No country, no entity has come close to America. Today is a celebration of that."

But that depends on whom you ask too.

"What to the slave is the 4th of July?" said protester Jitu Brown.

It is a tale of two Americas.

For some, July 4th in 2020 means finding a spot away from the crowds to enjoy the sun.

"It's about celebrating the country and stuff, but more just seeing everyone; time to catch up," said Courtney Kielbania. "Everyone's so far away from each other. The beach is so vacant. It's kind of weird."

But for others, July 4th in 2020 means fighting to be heard.

"There's a lot of things wrong with our nation and we're not free, so today is not Independence Day for us," said protester Esi Koomson.

Instead, they say, this is the chance to point out where equality stands today – and how much farther we have left to go.

"I can't be free if my brothers and sisters can't get medical attention during coronavirus," said the Rev. Robin Hood.

"We need to honor what the history of this country is if we want to move forward," said protester Loreen Targos. "We can't move forward without truth and reconciliation."

Rallies and marches were planned across the country on this 4th of July – not just in Chicago, but also a dozen other cities including Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.

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