When I was growing up I heard it again and again. People said that they were moved to get involved in public service or volunteer work by John F. Kennedy. "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." People ran for office, they joined the local school board, they joined the Peace Corp, they enlisted in the armed forces. And they did it because an inspiring president asked them to do it. President Kennedy had a great influence that way.
More than a million people responded to the Obama campaign's survey (including me) and almost 800,000 of them said that they want to continue doing community organizing. Even more amazingly, 100,000 respondents (not including me) indicated an interest in running for public office. You can't look at that in any other way than as an indication that the president's campaign inspired and restored millions of people's confidence in the capacity of our government to do good things.
And most of the those people have gained at least a little experience in the art of political or community organizing. Obama has created a veritable army of community organizers. Most of them currently indicate an interest in working to advance the president's agenda, but their skills will be put to other uses this year and in the decades to come.
Kennedy inspired a generation. Obama has done the same thing on a much bigger scale and with a whole set of tools and skills for that generation to put to use in the effort.