D-Day, June 2009

On Wednesday I was in the House of Commons for Prime Minister's Questions - watching Gordon Brown fight for his own political survival having seen his Cabinet begin to desert him.

It was inevitably a raucous occasion, but for me the most striking moment came at the start when - as happens too often now - the Prime Minister and David Cameron paid a tribute to the seven brave soldiers who had just been killed serving our country.

This Saturday we have another powerful reminder of the sacrifices that our Armed Forces make, with the 65th anniversary of D-Day.  In West Sussex, 56 British and Allied Squadrons were controlled during the invasion from the RAF Tangmere Sector Operations Room at Bishop Otter College in Chichester.

The landing scene in Steven Spielberg's film Saving Private Ryan movingly captured the trauma and brutality of the Normandy landings.  On 6 June 1944 the allies landed about 156,000 troops - around 60,000 were British soldiers.

And it is estimated that there were 10,000 allied casualties on D-Day, including 2,700 British troops.

But we must not forget the efforts that America made in helping to liberate Europe.  The US suffered over 6,000 casualties on the first day of the Battle of Normandy.

Yesterday President Obama was in the Middle East seeking to rebuild US relations with Arab nations and to give new momentum to the Israel-Palestine peace process.

It's a reminder of an ever present question: what role should the US should play in securing peace and democracy abroad?  Many feel that in recent years the US has wrongly interpreted its role, but D-Day reminds us that without this great nation's engagement Britain would not have been able to win the war.

As Winston Churchill said after the attack on Pearl Harbour: "to have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy...So we had won after all!...Hitler's fate was sealed."

Michelle Taylor