I read a story tonight about Adolf Merckle, a German billionaire who killed himself by jumping in front of a train after his business empire took a major hit from the global financial crisis. The story mentions that the 74-year-old was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz in 2005.

I am fascinated with really long words because my last name has 14 letters in it. So I did a Google search for “Bundesverdienstkreuz” and learned it is Germany’s highest civilian award. The award’s name means “Officer of the Cross of the Order of Merit.”

Oh, and the name of Merckle’s holding company that suffered heavy losses amid the financial crisis? VEM Vermoegensverwaltung.