Czar Nicholas tried to draft our boys for decades so as to Russify them. But these particular Cantonists hid their review of the basics of Judaism among the words of Russian folk songs they could sing while marching. Memories of waking up to "Modeh Ani" and neigl vasr lived on.
Now, the Czarist regime is gone, the USSR is gone, and those Cantonists' great grandsons now sing the song as modern Jews in the land of Israel.
עם ישראל חי!