A few moments later we all lifted our eyes in awe as a spectacular array of South African jets, helicopters and troop carriers roared in perfect formation over the Union Buildings. It was not only a display of pinpoint precision and military force, but a demonstration of the military’s loyalty to democracy, to a new government that had been freely and fairly elected. Only moments before, the highest generals of the South African defence force and police, their chests bedecked with ribbons and medals from days gone by, saluted me and pledged their loyalty. I was not unmindful of the fact that not so many years before they would not have saluted but arrested me. Finally a chevron of Impala jets left a smoke trail of the black, red, green, blue and gold of the new South African flag.

Explanation:

 

A stunning array of South African planes, helicopters, and troop carriers blasted in perfect formation above the Union Buildings a few moments later, and they all gasped in astonishment. It wasn't only a show of pinpoint precision and military might; it was also a symbol of the military's commitment to democracy, to a new government that had been elected freely and fairly.

 

Mandela re calls how, during the ceremony, the senior generals of the South African defence force and police saluted him and swore their allegiance, their chests adorned with ribbons and medals from days gone by.

 

However, he was also reminded of the fact that not so long ago, they would not have saluted but arrested him.

 

Adding a final touch to the display, a chevron of Impala jets left a smoke trail in the colours of the new South African flag: black, red, green, blue, and gold.

 

Meanings of difficult words:
 
Sl. No
Words
Meanings
1
ValleyA low area of land between hills or mountains, typically with a river or stream flowing through it
2
CrestThe top of a mountain or hill
3
RipeHaving arrived at the fitting stage or time for a particular action or purpose
4
DownpourA heavy fall of rain
5
ShowerA brief and usually light fall of rain, hail, sleet, or snow
6
IntimatelyIn a way that involves detailed knowledge
Reference:

National Council of Educational Research and Training (2007). First Flight. Nelson Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom - Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (pp. 16 - 23). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi..