A new chapter opens for America today as Joe Biden is sworn in as President and Kamala Harris as Vice-President.
People around the world have been counting days and hours until this moment when voices of integrity and reason return to the White House.
You don't have to be American to have felt the pain and betrayal fomented by (now former) President Donald Trump.
He's a stranger to the truth, who, in my view, places ego above human lives and decency.
The House impeached Trump last week for "wilful incitement of insurrection", for encouraging rioters who stormed the Capitol on January 6. They were acting on Trump's false claim the 2020 presidential election was "stolen". Five people died in the mob scene. Countless others were injured.
We have witnessed so many awful firsts: Trump is the first president to be impeached twice. The first to have an impeachment trial set for after he leaves office.
It's the first administration to see a non-peaceful transfer of power.
The first president since Andrew Johnson (another one-term leader who was impeached) not to attend his successor's inauguration. As Time magazine reported, "The image of the past and present president at the US Capitol is seen as an image of the continuity of government and a graceful transfer of and peaceful transfer of power".
2021's start was anything but graceful.
After threats of more violence, capitol buildings around the country are on high alert.
Photos from Springfield, Illinois, where I used to cover state politics beneath the silver dome, show police with weapons and militarised vehicles.
Hundreds of officers and National Guard members have been deployed to the Capitol.
Plywood covers the once-stately windows to prevent glass from shattering in case of attack. Roads in the area are blocked, a scene repeated at statehouses nationwide.
Journalist friends around the country have prepared, as best they can, for what might happen today, knowing that many Trump supporters seek to hurt them.
A former colleague, Mike, who works in TV news in Ohio, recently shared a photo from another journalist at the Capitol riots, where Maga-hat wearing men stand beside a door scrawled with, "Murder the Media".
CNN reported numerous assaults on the media during the mob scene, where journos were trying to do their jobs as the eyes and ears of America - and the world.
The network posted a two-minute video where Trumpers shouted "F*** you", and "Traitors!" to a reporter and photographer over and over again. It's terrifying, especially when a crowd member screams, "There are a lot more of us than you. We could destroy you."
We enter a new era knowing the cancer of the right-wing has spread throughout the States and beyond, amassing followers who eschew facts, science and deny reality.
Perhaps Trump didn't seed the cancer, but he encouraged its spread, as he and his base lie, cheat, mock and bully to get their way.
Even though polls show 65 per cent of Americans believe Biden was rightfully elected president, 70 per cent of Republicans still buy the thoroughly debunked story the Democrat stole the country's highest office.
This, despite the fact courts have thrown out more than 60 lawsuits by Trump regarding the election. Even former Trump ally, Republican (soon to be former) Senate leader Mitch McConnell has acknowledged Biden's win and blamed Trump for the Capitol insurgency.
"The mob was fed lies," McConnell said.
"They were provoked by the President and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government, which they did not like."
Biden's inauguration at the end of the Trump era will be unlike anything before it.
The streets of Washington, DC around the Capitol have been blocked and fortified since the riots.
As of Tuesday morning (US Eastern Standard Time), 25,000 National Guard troops from around the country had been deployed. Air Force fighter jets will patrol the skies. A much smaller crowd, because of threats of violence and the Covid-19 pandemic, will witness the ceremony.
As the New York Times reported, "For the first time, the procession to the White House will be replaced with a 'virtual parade' in an effort to slow the spread of a virus that has killed nearly 400,000 Americans".
I plan to be up before 6am to watch the inauguration online. To witness another, more positive first: the first woman Vice-President. The first black and first south Asian one, as the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants.
These facts seem like nuggets surrounded by falling boulders, but they are golden. You have to savour the positives. Revel while the sun shines.
Another bright spot for me happened yesterday while talking to my dad. He lives in Ohio and has voted Republican all his life. He said the Capitol riots had finally convinced him Trump had to go.
"It will be good to have a sane President," he said, "even if he is a liberal."
Indeed. Savour the moment. Savour the sanity. God only knows how long it'll last.
- Dawn Picken is an expat American who lives and works in the Bay of Plenty.