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┬áMerckle’s holding company┬áthat suffered heavy losses amid the financial crisis? VEM Vermoegensverwaltung.