They're all WWII service medals:
By the cold and religious we were taken in hand Shown how to feel good and told to feel bad. > Tongue tied and terrified we learned how to pray > Now our feelings run deep and cold as the clay. And strung out behind us the banners and flags Of our possible pasts lie in tatters and rags.
The two lines with ``>'' on them were included in the printed lyrics but not sung on the album. There's also a line near the beginning of the song, ``The Final Cut'':
If you negotiate the minefield in the drive And beat the dogs and cheat the cold electronic eyes And if you make it past the shotgun in the hall Dial the combination Open the priesthole > And if I'm in I'll tell you what's behind the wall
What often gets mentioned is that an explosion, as from a gunshot, covers up everything after ``...I'll tell you...'' in the last line. Which makes sense; you (the listener) never ``make it past the shotgun in the hall.'' But if the full line hadn't been included in the written lyrics, you would never know what you're missing...
The poppy has become a symbol of that time. Every November, when Americans celebrate Veterans Day, the British have Remembrance Day. Poppy wreaths are laid at the memorial to the Unknown Soldier, etc. A national charity collects money for veterans by selling artificial poppies -- wearing a poppy shows that you remember and that you gave. The same thing happens in the US, for Memorial Day.
It does also have something to do with morphine. Poppies are also a symbol of relief from life's pain, and have been since long before WWI.
[...and more, from Helen Bransfield:]
IN FLANDERS FIELDS by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place: and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved, and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die WE SHALL NOT SLEEP, THOUGH POPPIES GROW IN FLANDERS FIELDS.
[From a posting by David Schuetz:]
I noticed [the "huge improvement" in sound quality]. It really does give a certain amount of imaging, around you rather than just between the speakers. When Waters did his Pros & Cons show on the radio in 1985 [that was the 28mar85 radio city music hall concert (gdh)], he did an introduction where he walked to a timpani, struck it with his fingernail, and then said ``If I ask you to point where that timpani came from, [here I pointed over my right shoulder] and if you don't point over your right shoulder, then we're in trouble.'' It was impressive.
As for just what it *is*, they were *very* secretive. They had ``Ringo the holophonic microphone.'' The process was based on holography, but of an audio form (you can do holography with *any* wave-based phenomena). The theory was that there were high frequencies generated by the ear (and some people have been shown to ``generate'' some frequencies from time to time), and that sounds interfere with these frequencies, and the interference pattern is what we interpret. So, what holophonics is is a conversion of sounds directly to that interference pattern.
Now, the fact that this sounds like a crock is immaterial, because it does work. So, just what is it? Most (including myself) believe it's just a form of binaural recording. That ``Ringo'' is probably just a dummy head with microphones where the ears are. And when you listen with headphones, your ears are right where those microphones were, and you hear it as if you were actually there. Binaural is *fantastic* fun, and I wish more people would work with it. It's a shame, though, that Floyd/Waters got duped into believing that Zuccareli's process was anything special....
Jesus Christ, I might as well be dead If I can't see how dangerous it must feel to be Training human cogs for the machine Without some shell-shocked lunatic like me Bombarding their still soft shores With sticks and stones that were lying around In the pile of unspeakable feelings I'd found When I turned back the stone Turned over the stone Of my own disappointment back home