In a cynical age where the very concept of "heroism" is too often dismissed as hopelessly naive, even the famous "women and children first" part of the Titanic story has been denigrated -- with the naysayers arguing that it happened only because the ship's captain threatened to shoot any men who climbed into lifeboats ahead of children and women.
Maybe so, maybe not. But even if the Titanic happened as the critics say, then all it took is one man with courage (the captain) -- and the ability to back up his threat -- to make a more elevated moral order than "every man for himself" stick.
And sure, in life-threatening horrors like the Batman massacre and the Titanic sinking, there will always (understandably) be some element of animal panic and self-preservation instinct that takes over. But not always -- and as we learned amid the devastation of 9/11 and its aftermath, there is still a need for the "manly virtues" when the face of evil reveals itself.
And that's why it's doubly impressive -- and doubly important -- to be able to point out the selflessness, the physical courage, and the real manliness of those who gave their own lives to protect others. Our society would be infinitely improved if all the fatherless young men wandering around in gangs, with saggy pants and tattoos, waving weapons in the streets learned about this truer, better way to "be a man."